Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Invisibility

Yesterday on my way to breakfast, I looked out the bus window in time to see a man reach into a bin and take out a discarded drink and polystyrene food container. I'd seen him approach it, and didn't think for a minute that he was about to do so; he looked like he didn't have a lot of money, but he looked like he had more than someone who might have to do that. It made me feel so sad, and worried. And then I thought about Walt Whitman.

I think I hate Walt Whitman. After my childish (morbid) fascination of We Are Seven wore off, I became pretty certain I hated William Wordsworth. But I have to admire what they tried to do; to bring attention to and demand recognition of the value of poor people. Sometimes their work reads patronising, but the intention is there, and there's a love, and a respect.

When I saw the man, I wasn't sure what to do. I was on my way to a cafe where I would sit in warmth with my friend, and eat a breakfast cooked especially for me. And while in the past I might have felt guilty about it, I didn't. I felt like breakfast with my friend is a justifiable expense, and that I try not to be wasteful with money, and that I give as much as I can. But that changes nothing for the man I saw.

I don't know if people realise how hard things are for others right now; others they probably see every day at work, or at the supermarket, or picking their kids up from school. It must hurt so much to be struggling, and then to feel as if no-one even sees you. Acknowledges what you do, and who you are.

I hope that by talking, something changes. That at least maybe someone feels like they are noticed.

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