Wednesday, March 03, 2010

But for the grace of God

I was at the dinner table the other night when somebody started on a rant about how irritating it is when homeless people ask for money. "Four dollars, he wanted. Who asks for four dollars these days? I mean, how dare he come along and hassle me like that. So I told him to get lost". There seemed to be nods of agreement around the table.

Just a few days earlier I had my own little brush with homelessness. Somebody, who had been sleeping on the street outside the building where I work, did a poo on the doorstep. A situation slightly more annoying that being hassled for money, one might argue. Yet, when I spoke to the man whose job it was to clean up the area, he wasn't angry at all. His comment was that we shouldn't judge for we could be in that situation "but for the grace of god". I looked up that phrase and it seems to mean that none of us is so virtuous that we might not have done the same, given the same circumstances.

With that sentiment in mind, I thought back to the issue of the hassling in the street. While I know that four dollars isn't going to solve the problem of homelessness in Sydney, it's also not a sum likely to make a dent in the pocket of anyone who can afford to take a relaxed weekend retreat with all meals included. I hope I never take for granted my charmed life, full to the brim with employment, shelter and friends. I hope I always remember that I just happen to be lucky... for now.