On Monday night a suicide bomber detonated a device inside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK, packed with children, teenagers, parents and people just out to have a fun time.
As a Brit myself, I watched in shock as the news hit. To see the devastation brought by a senseless act of terrorism, targeting mainly young girls, left me sickened. I don’t want to get into debates about ISIS, religion, politics and beliefs when it comes to this tragedy. The motivations behind such senseless killings do not make this any less of a tragedy.
In the midst of all the brutality a story broke. A story involving two homeless men, who had been begging for change from those leaving the venue. These men were doing what many homeless need to do to get by. Asking for spare change.
I wonder how often these men have stood in public, asking for help, and had people walk past them as if they don’t exist. I know how that feels. When I go panhandling in Halifax it often feels as if I’m invisible. As if acknowledging my presence will somehow harm that person. It’s an awful feeling. To be stood begging takes all the self pride you have and stamps all over it anyway. To know that people would rather not see you, would rather not acknowledge the problem in their city, hurts.
Steve and Chris are heroes.
They ran into the arena and helped those who were injured and dying. They comforted lost children, tried to provide first aid, comforted those who were taking their final breath. These homeless men showed compassion and bravery in the face of senseless violence and cowardice.
Since the news broke there have been funds raised for these heroes. Funds that mean that they have somewhere safe to sleep tonight, food, money to pay for necessities in life. It warms my heart to see these men getting rewarded, when they acted, not thinking what would they get from this, but out of sheer humanitarian purposes.
Its often said that those with the least often give the most. It’s evident in the shelter that, although we all live in poverty, we will have the backs of our fellow residents. Sharing what we have, the little we have, comes naturally. We know what it’s like to have nothing.
I have a daughter back in the UK, who is at university. One of the girls still missing after the bombing went to college with her and was in her class. I hope that Steve and Chris were with her at some point, so she knew she wasn’t alone.
I hope that people can look at homeless people now, see that we are still human, we still exist, we aren’t invisible. We will be there if you need help. We are not devoid of human emotion, we know that you have a tough life too. A kind word can make my day when I’m panhandling. Just knowing someone stopped to say hi to me makes me smile.
I wish Chris and Steve all the best. You guys are heroes. Invisible, amazing heroes.