on the corner, a man perched himself up on the ledge. he stood just high enough so that even the slightly hunched-over little ladies in the back of the crowd behind the tall rugged men could make out the lines on his weathered face. his message was that we were all doomed. not exactly the type of thought that brings smiles to many people’s faces but he spoke it loud, just enough that there was no mistaking his voice. the man had done this for so long, he himself couldn’t remember doing anything else. this was his calling. or so he thought.
a woman crouched nearby. she hadn’t eaten a solid meal in weeks. her fingernails were long and dirty underneath and her fading light pink lips cracked. her name was laura but nobody knew that. it had been years since anyone had cared enough to speak her name, she had almost forgotten it herself. she listened to the man speak doom and gloom and wondered why he wasted his time. the world being doomed was old news to her.
the little boy held out his hand as the strangers walked by. every morning he did this. the money he longed for wasn’t for a video game or a shiny new toy. this was his job. he was 9 years old and old enough to fend for himself. if he wanted to eat today, this was his only option. his mother and father were gone and his only sibling was too busy with the heroin highs to notice the little man still existed. stumbling upon this crowd, he wondered if there would ever be reason for hope. apparently not, if this man was right. there would be no future.
the businessman was running late for a meeting. he had been successful in real estate and very little else. his wife had left him a few years ago and for some reason his children hated him for it. maybe it was obsession with work or his devotion to everything but them. each time he turned to something new, it was just another burnout, another failure. so he stuck to burying himself in his work. he was so preoccupied with his morning coffee and his reports he was peering over to sense the growing crowd. but then he heard the man declaring doom and gloom. ‘tell me something i don’t know’ said the man.
the crowd grew larger and larger. the man’s voice grew louder and louder. but i was there. on the edge, watching the passers-by and the speaker simultaneously. i stood there and watched. unable to move. i was stunned. how many times had i walked by the homeless woman? how many times a day had i brushed off the poor orphan boy who just wanted something to eat? why did i always assume that being rich meant that all of the man’s problems were solved? how come i couldn’t stop the speaker from shouting wrath upon the crowd? it’s because this is the world i know now. why had i not seen all this before today? i couldn’t help but think, ‘i did this’. i did this because i couldn’t move. i said it over and over to myself ‘i did this’ ‘i did this’… i was too lost in my own world, too arrogant to help a little boy. too shy and weak to show concern for someone i thought had it better than me. this is the world i now know.
the world i know is not how it has to be. the world i know does not have to be surely doomed and the sky is not always gloomy. the world i know still has sunny days left and the people have time for restoration. in the world that could be, the woman doesn’t have to be alone and the preacher on the corner isn’t the voice of the generation. as i stood there, with the wind in my face, i finally recognized that all these people were not strangers. they were everyone i had ignored. i was one of them.