This is Ronald Davis, homeless Chicagoan. This 2012 street interview, in which he tearily describes his futile search for work and dignity, reportedly inspired an entire PBS series on social policy:
“I start out my mornings about six o’clock. Sometimes, I don’t even have enough money for the flophouse… It’s really humiliating to be shaking a cup 24 hours a day, and people just look at you’re like some kind of little bum… At the end of the day, when people go home, and everybody gets on the metro train, I just feel so bad that I can’t be going home… No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human first. And just ’cause I’m down on my luck don’t give nobody no excuse to call me no bum. Because I’m not.”
Watch the whole video.
It begs the questions: What is dignity? How does someone get a second chance? What are we, as a society spending our money on? Doesn’t what we spend money on show what we value? Are we showing the values we want to be showing? Is this man a “taker” because he’s not wealthy? How can someone lift themselves up when they have nothing to lift with?
This is a trap that’s so easy to fall in, and so hard to get out of. The next time you see a ‘bum’, think twice. It could be someone you love, because someone loved them.
It could be you.
Is this the country you want? If not, how do you change it?