A Blazer, Red Scarf, and Fifty Bucks
--by FP, posted Jun 30, 2007
We have a lot of poor homeless people that come walking around our neighborhood day in and day out, either collecting stuff from our trash to recycle or physically coming to the door to ask for anything. Walking to and from class you pass by at least 4-5 of them daily. Most of the time, the constant rush against time makes me pass by them without noticing, but Eric would always take the second (even if he's in the middle of an important conversation!) to take out his wallet and give him/her a dollar.
This may not seem like a big deal, because most students are USC have a dollar to give away. Sure, Eric also isn't dead broke, but like all of us film school students, he doesn't have money to squander either. What's more is that he doesn't just give them the dollar and walk away -- he makes sure he says a good word or sometimes actually sits down and has a conversation with them. His sincerity is moving.
The reason i decided to sit down and write this, though, is because of what happened last night.
Last night, another one of these homeless individuals came up to the house next door. Four-five of us ignore him but Eric tells him to hold on a second. He goes up to his room, grabs a blazer, a beautiful red scarf his sister gave him for Christmas and fifty dollars. He runs outside, dresses the man in the blazer, the scarf and then hands the man the money!
I watched from inside the house, and I was brought back to my own life experiences where I understood the capacity for human compassion. As you might imagine, the homeless man was beyond grateful, and he simply said, "There must be a God."
Eric walks back in, and I'm totally dumbfounded. I asked him, "You just said you were broke. Don't you need that money?" He says, "I have to read something to you." I go upstairs to his room and he pulls out this book he's been reading -- Gandhi's Experiments with Truth. Then, he reads me this quote:
"Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to have control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will fine your doubts and yourself melting away."
He shuts the book and says, "See it all makes sense."
I've been thinking about the experience and the quote all day today.
And to the person who said "you are not supposed to donate to individuals", i am of that same mindset generally but after reading this story, i thought that maybe such a beautiful act of generosity just might inspire that homeless man in some way positive. Or not, but wouldn't it be great if we all could enjoy a few moments of unadulterated joy once in a while? !
Final thought, don't ever lose touch with eric. He seems like a guy you would want as a friend for a lifetime!