As a teenager, I knew my purpose in life would be to change the world for the better. I may have been overly optimistic.
Any philosopher will tell you that your interaction with another human, however minor, can change that person’s destiny forever. Perhaps that friendly ‘hello’ made a suicidal stranger rethink his terminal plans and he went on to create a foundation to reach out to suicidal people saving countless lives. Who changed the world there? Stephen R Covey’s Book First Things First he writes that people have a need "to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy." When you influence someone’s life, positively or negatively, you leave that legacy.
Today the weather is wet. Rain is pouring from the sky. October has brought lower temperatures than just a couple of weeks past. As I turned into Tyson Park, I saw a man sitting in the first parking space of the park, on the asphalt. My first thought was a runner was in distress so I slowed the van. As I approached him, I realized he was a homeless person. His plastic bags were on the ground beside him. His pants were pulled down over his thighs. He sat bare assed on the asphalt. A bridge in sight 50 yards to his left and another 300-400 yards to his right. He was drenched. As I passed him, his head turned and we made eye contact. I have nothing for him. No umbrella in the van. Nothing. Ah, in hindsight, I did have a tarp. However, he was not seeking shelter. Is suspected he might be relieving himself. In all likelihood, we was working the system. It’s a game those of us one paycheck away from homelessness don’t yet know how to play. I suspect he was hungry and cold. His behavior is certain to get him a stay in a jail cell with a few meals. So I made the call. I spoke with the non-emergency number of the Knoxville Police Department and asked not if they could arrest him but if they could help him. In his case, it is probably one in the same.