Everyone matters. It is so easy to dismiss people as not being worth our notice. I have frequently visited nursing homes with many patients in wheelchairs sitting the hall. I have noticed that most people pass them by without comment. It is as if they don’t exist. How terrible to be relegated to such a position. I have always made it a point to speak to each resident and smile. Most of them are so happy to have someone reach out to them and I receive lots of smiles in return.
I live in the South of the United States and there is a big difference just walking the streets of the town I live in. People routinely smile and speak as they pass on the street. The city has a large Art college with lots of students and it is easy to tell that some of them are startled when passers by speak. You can see them wondering whether to respond. I am not sure that this is routine in all southern cities but it is in many that I have visited. It is nice to acknowledge people and have them respond.
However many people do not speak to those who are obviously homeless. They choose to not acknowledge their existence. So even in a place where people routinely greet another person they still attach a stigma to those less fortunate. I do continue to speak to them and usually get a smile in return.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you don’t exist. I know that has happened to many who suffer from mental illness. They certainly know what it feels like to be deliberately ignored.
I hope that we can learn to see each person as a human being deserving of being recognized. I wonder how thing would change if this were so.