Buy a Bum a Book – Change a Life
Ideas are the most powerful forces in the universe. The very idea of man has created the world around us today and how we see that world depends on certain contingent factors that build our unique world view. If i were to give a homeless man a £5 note, he may use it to buy bread and milk to nourish him throughout the day. It is probably more likely that he will wan’t to spend it on something that makes living more bearable in such harsh conditions. Alcohol and drugs, frowned upon by those comfortable enough to enjoy the education and privilege of a comparably affluent life, make that individual’s day so much more bearable and cannot be underrated. However these things do not help to change this persons life situation and most likely do not make him happy, however stoic he may appear.
Try thinking out your own life and your own plans. As serious as we make them out choices are reflections of the way we choose to see the world. How can you change your ways? Experience and education. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas. It cannot be stressed enough in 3 part lists, repeated rhetorical structures or clever idiomatic expressions. The sewing of seeds can be achieved. If i could change just one persons everyday life, even in a small way, then it was an idea well played. Give a bum a book. A second hand, dog eared tome. A book that is both priceless treasure to you and worthless paper to the eyes of a book seller. Choose wisely and it could very well change his or her life.
Give a homeless man a reason to live life for each day rather than just living for the sake of life each day. Life is a lesson. A journey. A cascading series of myriad moments all jumbled together; carelessly and without thought for consequence. How dull and how banal to just sit in one place, day to day, twiddling over yesterdays dog ends and asking for change. All your clothes gathered around you in plastic bags like wilted feathers, all plucked from your lifeless form but too precious to throw away.
What if a homeless person were to see his situation, not as a curse, but a blessing. How many of us can say that we are totally free? Unbelievably outside of the system that engenders greed and a never ending quest for unattainable wealth?
If the tramp decided to see his life as a journey, himself the restless traveller, the vagabond between places, then maybe he would enjoy his situation more. He could walk the highway: today cheltenham, tommorow Gloucester, the New forest, Cardiff. A tent on his back and a sleeping bag tucked under his arm. Camping every day in a new field. Jumping on trains and getting off at the next station just to see somewhere new. Because after all what is like for? Sitting in one place? A freerider mentality some may say. But who cares, really?
We have chosen to pay. We’ve chosen to be part of the system and with that choice comes payment and the consequent need to pay. Why deny he who has nothing the right to a comfortable ride between cities? Imagine the tramp who can live on minimal funds. Food and water. Washing in streams, free in some naked hippy world. The dream of freedom didnt die. We killed it when we chose to embrace our meritocratic system. Think of the tramp not as the lazy bum but the gatherer, picking berries from trees and sucking the marrow from life.
Equip them with the right, and more importantly the knowledge of that right.
Grab a book (Jack Kerouac‘s Dharma Bums is a good example), find the homeless person who most wants to change; who is most unhappy with his life situation. How do they see there everyday life? Give them another option, a new idea. Engender hope. They could never hope to attain the wealth that parades itself along high streets in Dolce and Gabbana head-scarves and rose tinted sunglasses from Chanel. But just because you are further away from one area and choice of life it doesn’t mean that others are unattainable. It is the individual spark, the individual heroes who can change the world. Don’t forget that bums are people too, just as deserving of a good life as you. You may not be able to change the circumstances of that life. But at least you will have tried to change the way that they see that life. Small differences are still differences in a world of ever depressing banality.