It’s been a common maxim amongst Australians in the last few years since an Australian Of The Year stated ‘the standard you walk by is the standard you accept’. If you walk by a situation or someone in need and don’t do something, don’t feel something, then you’re accepting that as part of society, that its ‘just the way it is.’ Whether it’s domestic violence or poverty or racism, as human beings we need to stand-up for what we believe is right. We don’t know the circumstances sometimes, so we only have a few seconds to make a call. With my pride bubbling, I would like to say how impressed I was of my girlfriend’s reaction to seeing a woman wearing a burka being verbally abused on the tram (am not entirely sure if verbs were in fact used as I wasn’t there, but let’s say there was). The antagonist was a man clearly on some drugs, yet the outcome was the same. A large man stepped in first and told him to be quiet, but once the defendant got off at a stop, the abuser continued. So my girlfriend stepped in too to protect the woman, despite not having the impacting presence of a large figure and most likely (being Asian) to suffer racist abuse herself. Now the woman in the burka didn’t say anything, she didn’t need to, but I hope that she realised not all people are arseholes, and that Australia is a welcoming multi-cultural society of tolerance, not of spite. And that underneath it all, people give a shit.
And so it’s with some embarrassment that I relay my own story. In spotting a man sat down under a blanket on the street opposite our Parliament building, I reached inside my pocket for some change – usually I have none and barely even carry cash any more. Yet today I knew I had a fifty-cent coin that could do with a home so I dropped in my money to this man’s battered paper coffee cup. As I did that, the homeless man raised hands from underneath his blanket to type on his mobile phone. He didn’t notice me pass. The fifty cents clinked loudly amongst the other gold and silver coins in the cup, and I noticed a rogue $1 coin left strewn on the pavement behind the view of the phone. I almost walked back for my fifty cents I was so annoyed, but it’s funny analysing it as I continued my stroll home, with multiple personalities jostling one another:
Why wasn’t that man grateful for my fifty-cent donation? I should at least have received a thank you!
What do you want, a cake? A hug? You gave away fifty cents, you tight sod! Why should he be grateful, he didn’t ask for money from you did he? You gave it!
He’s got an iPhone! Pisses all over your three years old Samsung Galaxy with a cracked screen eh?
That could be his only possession in the world, relax! . . . remember that homeless man that used to sit there with his MacBook?
He’s got so much money he can’t even keep the place tidy by putting the spilled $1 in the cup
You want a man begging on the street to be tidy? You have issues, Reed
I was recently made aware of the excellent page which is written by women for women to protect themselves online. Worth a read if you have time, thanks Jane Hernandez for bringing it my attention.
For more information on homelessness in Australia, check out homelessnessaustralia.org and the ever excellent redcross
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