Writing on subway poster for Coalition for the Homeless
Why are the homeless such a touchy subject in New York?
New Yorkers have adapted to ignoring those asking for help on the sidewalk or in a subway car. It becomes a routine disengagement when you pass by the same people everyday. Avert your gaze. Don’t read any signs. Speed up. Headphones in ears.
I’ve heard numerous excuses, ranging from selfish to hateful. You need the change. You work for your own money. They could spend it on drugs. A good one is when a person says that they’d much rather buy this person a sandwhich, but how many people stop to actually do this?
Granted I have put in my head phones because I anticipate running into someone asking for money. It’s painful and in that way, the disengagement is understandable. The scary part is when this feeling becomes indifference.
How do you help a person enough? How do you teach people to help themselves? How do you learn compassion?
Yesterday I grabbed a pair of old gloves and handed them off to a guy who sits outside of the subway station. The only reason I thought he might need them is because he never wears any. I didn’t save his life. He might not even want them. It was just a gesture and I hope that when I have the resources and time, I can do much more in this city.