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You remember that man on the corner? The one holding the large, billboard like sign standing below an arching support beam of the aged corner store on 75th and Clark in attempt to keep out of the rain? The one you always pass by and don't give any more attention to than a simplistic head nod and a sympathetic "pat on the back"? Yeah, that's the one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to judge you; I avoid the b****** as if he was a life consuming disease too! Then again I am always the last to get involved with charitable acts, and I might just be broadening the "justification to a means" by shooting everyone else down to my level… Whatever might be the cause of my actions, I digress.
Old ragged falling apart sandals, two sizes too big torn-faded white t-shirt, long, slightly curled unwashed brown hair and a beard to match. Something of a comedy caricature of a hippie, really. His "rugged" looks matched the litter of garbage and stained rusting arch he was standing under. Bothering everyone that passes him, flashing peace signs, and carrying a sandwich board reading 'THE END IS NIGH'. That, I thought, was unusual even for a hippie. Yet, somehow, he managed to catch my interest one day, enough so that I couldn't help but situate myself across the street and study him.
It was painful to watch this man get rejected and ridiculed time after time, and the rising heat of the day causing the linen of my suit to cling to my legs making this scene slightly more unbearable then it rightfully should be. Just as I was about to write him off as "nothing more than a bum" and go on my way, is when I noticed his trying to stop a man walking past him,
"You want somethin?" The ominous, sharp dressed man asked defensively staring the hippie down.
"The world's ending," pleaded the hippie. "I need your help. Please listen to me..."
"Piss off, I ain't got time or money," barked the man, before continuing in a softer voice, almost a whisper as if trying not to make a scene "Find your drug money elsewhere, you won't get any sympathy from me; freeloader."
The man stepped around the hippie, not tolerating another word, and kept walking. "High as a kite" he muttered softly under his breath. "You don't understand, I don't want your money" the hippie said to himself shaking his head. Although to my surprise the hippie started walking after him, dragging his feet slightly, due to one of many cases (hunger, heat, exhaustion) and fell into step beside him.
Right about now is when this entire situation lost my interest; I couldn't help but feel pity for both of them. One for having nothing and getting nothing no matter how much he pleads, for being cursed by society, for forgetting the comfort of a warm bed, and rejected by love. As for the other for being a heartless, stuck up, conceited, gorgon/wall with a suit and tie if you will. "Forgive my sense of romanticist flattery" I chuckled at myself slightly at the irony of the comment. I was about to get up and leave, for a second time, when things started to get fired up. The man, without turning around or even making the slightest effort to direct his voice at the hippie said, "You have ten seconds to stop following me."
"Finally some entertainment," I thought to myself I couldn't help but slide to the edge of the bench getting ready for the brutally savage entertainment about to come, "I wish I had popcorn…" I muttered to myself. Just as I called it! The man stopped and put his suitcase down, balling his fists, preparing for a fight. Then the hippie did something I didn't expect, instead of doing what any normal human being would do and strike before the potential enemy had a chance too, he dropped to his knees.
"Please, I need your help, please sir! I'm not asking for money, just a moment of your time, just a few minutes, please…" begged the hippie, starting to tear up. "All I'm asking is to lend me your ears for a brief moment, please sir I just ask for a second of compassion. I swear to you, it will save you in the end"
"Look, man, I'm really not interested," he exclaimed with a hardening heart and infuriated mind, picking up his suitcase and feverishly walking away.
The hippie stood up and leaned against a wall, defeated, watching him walk away. He wasn't all that disappointed; lots of people gave this kind of response. "The world is going to end and you're another skeptic!" he yelled at the furthering man, fingering the tattered holes through the middles of his hands.
So, you ever hear what everyone always says? "Poverty is leprosy that even Christ can't cure," and this man had nothing, absolute zero, committing to his mission to spread love and a kind message. Isn't it funny how far we have strayed from the enlightening moral teachings of the bible? We went from being one with nature and accepting that there is a God to destroying beauty and considering ourselves higher than the higher power.
Living in a world where we draw some artificial line between a hamburger wrapper and the fallen leaves of a tree that we will never understand. We distinguish between nature and humanity in a way that puzzles the few bright, to not confuse the mass ignorant. When you think about it, we are nature, our cities, our roads, and our orbital satellites are no different than a termite colony, or a bird's nest, except perhaps in scale. There is nothing unique about humanity. We live in a world where if you're not desensitized to the full extent, then you have no chance of making it. In our world people like this hippie are shunned/exiled because "his life style and message is different from ours" and in today's society that's morally correct.
However, I also understand that morality is an artificial device we use to guide tribal behavior, a useful conceit in creating harmony and growth in small populations, but there is no real weight to good and evil. Nature is beyond that. There is nothing evil about the wasp that implants her young into a living caterpillar. Our concepts of ethics are as fragile as our bodies, and just as impermanent. Before I further contradict myself I'll continue with the original point. Deep down I want to believe I'm not one of those people, but s***, the sad part is we all are.
"Just another skeptic…"