“If you have an impulse to kindness, act on it.” ~ Douglas Coupland


Where I work, there’s a whole lot of homeless people milling around.

I recall many years ago how much the homeless scared me. I remember feeling disgust, even, when I saw beggars who seemed drunk or high. I wondered if handing them money would just encourage them to stay that way. I would experience an uncomfortable mix of pity, self-righteousness and guilt, deciding in the end to just ignore the feelings, thoughts, and the people who brought them out in me.

I don’t recall when I started looking at their faces, but it seems that really looking at them, and seeing them, caused some kind of internal shift. Instead of seeing just homeless people, I started seeing kind faces, sad faces, happy faces, tired faces, angry faces.

They’re the same kinds of expressions I or any of my friends would have.  And that made me see them as my friends, too. Starting with that thought, it didn’t take much to begin giving them a smile, a greeting, a dollar when I have it, a joke or two, maybe a sandwich, or even just a silent wish or prayer for their well-being. The impulse just springs up, realizing we’re all passengers in this same boat called life.

What thoughts cross your mind when you see someone who’s obviously down and out? Leave a comment.

One thought on ““If you have an impulse to kindness, act on it.” ~ Douglas Coupland

  1. Feeling invisible as you sit on the sidewalk, aware of the traffic going past, seeing you not. How wonderful, when a soft voice gently greets me, looks straight into my eyes… my heart, and sees me. The clouds begin to part and I see the sun, if just for an instant, come into my otherwise… rainy day.

    Every day being important, alleviates the necessity to have a special one
    in order to be thankful, contemplative.
    It is indeed my life that matters so much, for what I do affects
    touches you in ways I may never know.
    My heart is what I most want to give you, and then take you with me
    into the next moment… tomorrow.
    This in itself is reason enough to care very much
    about all the ‘ little things ‘ I do… today.

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