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When one happens upon one who is homeless, there are varieties of reactions one may be inclined to have. Many an upright individual develop a peculiar aptitude for apathy that allows them to simply brush aside the dust, derelict, vagrant whom has subjugated himself to petitioning for pennies along the side of the road. More often, there are those who positively beam with pity. They scope the destitute, scavenge their pockets for as much change as possible to spare and when the blessing has been given, go on living their lives believing the pure celestial light of the right thing to have enacted it’s will through their hands; filled to the brim with good intent. I have always been of the latter.
On this particularly humid August afternoon, these very intentions weighed heavy in my heart. The sky, ablaze and orange, was stark in contrast to the dreary stone forest through which my friend I had been wandering. The repugnant smell of sewage was awash throughout the city. A blanket of garbage suffocated the streets, wedging itself into every corner. Vagabonds of every kind had settled themselves alongside of these filth-filled roads and it was not uncommon to find five or six affixed to one avenue. Yet, for all these blights, one sin distinguished itself in my mind. The people, their faces like the stone of the buildings that enclosed them, and the manner in which they were able to wave away the homeless hands that reached out from the ground, begging, pleading; never shall I forget. Wherever I ventured it followed, the eyes of the homeless, despair overflowing, haunted my steps and pervaded my heart. Whether it be on the man of large stature with his dusty garb and snowy beard, the friendless, frantic old women who could not look me in the eye, or the young man whose shabby cardboard sign asked only for a smile, a soul, downcast and drowned in despondency was evident all the same. Indeed, I did not keep even a single cent for myself that day.
Yet, for every dollar I departed with, a disquieting cry of apprehension made itself known. Louder and louder, it screamed in my mind. Finally, it overwhelmed me, grasping me violently by the cuff and forced me to recognize the utter futility of my endeavour. How could one argue that much of those living on the streets had been the authors of their misfortune? To what would my charity go towards? Worse, my quarter would never afford any man a home. What then could I do? The doubt driven voice launched a final offensive against my already crumbling resolve. What did those whom I had deemed myself to be helping, take of the petty pity I had ceded to them with such zest? Pity is patronizing. It is ignorant of the feelings of others and its only aim is to please its holder. Never could such a selfish, condescending attitude bring happiness into any life. My pity was the shackle around their necks, the chain that bound them to their displacement. Without question, I had not helped a single soul.
Clenching my fist, I ignored the calls of one such soul a final time as I turned to take my leave of that place. The pain of being bound to a fate where one must endure a never-ending, immutable state pity and rejection, was unimaginable and to try to imagine it, unbearable. Thus the manner in which people could become so apathetic towards the homeless became plain. With no way one which one could help them, it was all too understandable. I too would become like the stone buildings that enclosed me.
Any help with punctuation, word choice, passivity or the like would be greatly appreciated! Gracias :D