The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Listen For The Quiet Ones …

The older I get, the more I realise how brilliant my parents were.

There are so many reasons.

They gave me all the love and support and encouragement you could ever want.

They gave me incredible advice for how to live my life.

They told me to go live my life when they could have asked me to stay at home with them.

But for all those things, there was one thing they taught me that I feel was even more important than all that.

You learn from everyone.

Everyone.

That didn’t mean I had to agree with their point of view.

Nor did it mean I had to adopt their point of view.

What they wanted me to understand was every person has a story and if you really listen to what they say, it can help you learn a bunch of things.

Not just in the practical ‘move ahead in life’ stuff.

But in the understanding of how life works and how everyone is trying to deal with it as best they can.

And that’s why every month – from about the age of 8 to the age of 16 – my Dad would bring a homeless person [or as they were called in those days, tramps] to our house for dinner.

The deal was they would get a hot meal, a hot shower and a nice bed for the night if they told me about their life and what they had learnt from it.

Given the work I’ve done with HUMAN_2, I imagine my Dad often received a negative response. Not because the people he asked liked the situation they were in, but because they had experienced years of false promises or – worse – open avoidance and so were deeply mistrusting of anyone who approached them. But regardless of that, my Dad kept doing it and I’m so grateful he did.

Well, I say grateful, but at the time I found it weird.

Annoying even.

But looking back now, I realise how amazing and important it was.

It defined who I am.

It shaped how I do my job.

It ensured I respect people by their approach to life rather than their possessions.

It embodied my Mum always told me “… to be interested in what others are interested in”.

It’s probably why I value empathy in a planner more than curiosity. Though that could also be because the way planners talk about curiosity makes me sick.

But even more than that, I distinctly remember hearing a number of the visitors we had saying thank you to my parents. Not just for the food/shower/bed, but for being valued and being given a chance to be heard.

Which is maybe why when we were setting up HUMAN_2, the goal wasn’t to simply provide money to the homeless, but to provide assistance to those who wanted to help themselves out of their situation but didn’t know how.

I say all this because I recently saw a notice about a local homeless guy in Manhattan Beach who sadly died.

It really struck a chord with me.

Not just because it was touching to see a community acknowledge someone who many would treat as if they’re invisible, but because in the last 2 words of their note, they said something that encapsulated empathy and compassion for humanity.

You see as much as we live in a World where media likes to promote worth and value by what we own rather than who we are and how we live, LA amplifies that superficiality by about a billion … which is why the authors last 2 words were so beautiful and so important.

I just hope gentle Artie knew it.

Advertisements

24 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Did you go?

Comment by John

Yes we did and so did about 30 other people.

Comment by Rob

That is very good to read.

Comment by Lee Hill

How many people turned up?

Comment by John

Your parents were extraordinary human beings.

Comment by Lee Hill

because they stayed sane when they were raising campbell jnr?

Comment by andy@cynic

Yeolp, and I’m still discovering how extraordinary they were.

Comment by Rob

Like John, I am interested how many people went to Artie’s memorial. I do hope there were many people expressing their condolences.

Comment by Lee Hill

Now I know who influenced your fashion look.

Comment by Billy Whizz

thats fucking unfair, the homeless are much better dressed than campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

I said he was inspired by them, not better than them. That’s obvs.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Obvs!?

Comment by DH

did the fuckers in manhattan beach do anything for artie when he was alive?

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s a good point because the opportunity to help Artie was there before this happened. The sad thing is where I live does not do nearly enough for those less fortunate despite having the financial means but I’m hoping Artie’s death may help change that. One of the issues in America seems to be this attitude that if you are on hard times, that’s your fault as you could work hard to get out of it. What I think is the real reason is there’s this weird belief that if you help people, you’re giving them an unfair advantage or rewarding their situation despite the fact no one wants to be in that situation in the first place. Obviously not all Americans are like this but it just feels the general rule that permeates the air.

Comment by Rob

specifically permeates rich white fuckers attitudes.

Comment by andy@cynic

Nailed it.

Comment by DH

Will you be doing the same for Otis?

Comment by DH

We’ve been talking about that actually. Maybe not what my parents did but something that will hopefully achieve the same thing.

Comment by Rob

A sad yet inspiring post at the same time. Good is out there it’s just not found in the media.

Comment by Pete

Your parents were amazing people. RIP Artie.

Comment by Mary Bryant

I forgot to ask the obvious question – where did your father find these homeless people and how did he convince them his offer was genuine and his motives were above board? Did he become known for this in either the homeless or the general population? And was there a precedent in his life that prompted this?

Comment by John

He did become known over time for this – mainly by the neighbors and I believe a local charity – but I believe he initially found people who were sleeping rough in the Victoria bus station which was near his office or through his ties with the Police.

To be honest, I don’t know what was the precedent for this, I don’t know if I even asked him. But it will always be something I will remember him for and be grateful he and Mum wanted me to judge people beyond aesthetic or possessions.

Comment by Rob

Your dad was a legend.

Comment by DH

+1

Comment by John




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: