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Letters From Downtown

Signs of Compassion

When you work Downtown, when you're here day after day, you deaden a bit to some of the things you see. A couple huddled in a doorway on a cold November morning, a worn-out blanket barely covering them; cops on bikes pulling a homeless man up off of the sidewalk, a puddle of vomit at his feet; an elderly gentleman in suit and tie, stalking down the street and shouting curses at the demons leaking from his head; none of these things provoke a second glance after a while. There's a lot of suffering here for sure and very little that one person can do. A dollar here, a dollar there, maybe that helps a bit, but the overall feeling is one of powerlessness, and slowly you become hardened to it.

Today, though, I noticed this sign in the window of Lindy's Diner, and that numbness thawed just a little bit. No, Lindy's isn't going to solve the problems of homelessness and hunger. And one single meal on one single day isn't "enough." But it is something, a reminder that hardness isn't the answer, that compassion is. And that even if we can never do enough, we can, and should, still try.