While people ate their food and stayed myopically focused on only the things right in front of them, I became distracted. I saw you come down the hill, cautiously walking over rocks and tree stubs with your bare feet, looking over the barbed wire fence and into the crowd. I saw your face as you waved desperately, trying to get our attention. I wasn’t sure what you were doing there.
And then, I saw the empty plate you were holding. As you locked eyes with me and pointed at your plate as if to ask me to bring you food, I looked away. It made me uncomfortable to see someone begging for nourishment as I enjoyed food easily within my grasp. I found myself ashamedly asking why I had to be reminded that right over the hill from where we were, people were starving. It felt cruel to enjoy your beautiful country, while its own people were in pain. I wanted to do something. I wanted to say something to you, but I didn’t.
You must’ve seen the uncertainty, because you came closer. You walked all the way down the hill and up to the fence that separated us, your eyes pleading for someone, anyone, to satisfy your hunger. My heart broke. I wanted to take every piece of food within my reach and give it to you, but knew I would be stopped. The guards that were between us wouldn’t have let me get to you. But still…I should have tried.
You walked back up the hill and watched as hundreds of people enjoyed their lunch, completely oblivious to your need. How you must wonder how no one noticed you. How you must question if there’s more to life, than this.
You may never know the impact you had on me and my family that day. I wish I could tell you that I saw you in your white t-shirt and tattered jeans. I wish I could have spoken to you and given food to you and your family…and I wish I had tried instead of allowing my assumptions to stop me. You were in need and I looked away.
You left the hill and disappeared back into the forest, but you left your plate behind – a vivid reminder of what was just over the hill. As I stared at the plate, I wondered what you felt. I wondered what I could’ve done differently and I wondered if I’d ever see you again.
Almost a month later, I’m still haunted by your memory and still feel the pain of not trying to get to you. That day, I saw you sir, and your memory remains with me. It is a constant reminder to always try to help those in need and to not let assumptions stop me.
I hope the next person who sees you won’t make the same mistake I did. I hope they will fight past the misconceptions and assumptions and help you. I hope they’ll silence the thoughts in their mind that make them feel uncomfortable and instead, will push past the wall of their comfort zone.
Because despite how you might feel and what you might think…
You’re worth it, sir.