Most of us have probably met a panhandler or two in one of America’s major cities, or worldwide, if you travel a bit. When we meet face to face with someone begging, it’s usually easiest just to cross their hand with a coin or two . For others, it’s better not to even give eye contact and walk on by, hoping that the person begging won’t speak to us. We’ve probably all felt the helpless feeling that comes along with this situation and found ourselves wondering why anyone even has to be begging on the streets. Who are these people anyway? Are they mentally ill? …physically handicapped? …facing drug or alcohol addiction? …veterans? …mothers and fathers? …teenage runaways? …human trafficked youth and women? …or, people who have simply lost their way?
They are all of the above. They all have either met great failure or met a system which has failed them.
Dr. King points out that our compassion is truly present when we dare to challenge what has put these individuals on a street, begging from strangers to begin with.
Again, I’ll reference those I know who rescue animals from peril. A homeless animal wanders the streets no differently than a human being. He looks for food, water, shelter and warmth. Love can wait to him. Daring to get involved at that higher level in order to stop the root of why so many animals are homeless or not properly cared for is the truly challenging call for an animal rights activist.
Making a stand on social media regarding the abuse of animals is a start. Working towards legislation to highten fines and crimes for those who do mistreat animals is another step. Talking to everyone you meet about the need to spay and neuter their animals, and being unafraid to even ask friends if they should be considering the responsibility of a pet with their busy lifestyle is in order. It’s all ballsy, but necessary to make a long term difference for animals. So whether you are speaking out and advocating for the animal-kind, the human-kind or the plant-type, taking the step beyond the hand out towards the hand up forever alters outcomes. You might not see it in your time, just like Dr. King missed out on the results of his work, but your children will see it. And that’s what truly matters.