While searching for something non-violent to watch on TV, I happened upon the show “Extreme Makeover” (Home Edition). I was surprised and encouraged to find a show that focused on helping others. As the title suggests, inadequate and/or deteriorating houses are made over (usually, torn down and rebuilt). The selected makeover houses are picked from requests submitted by families that describe dire financial or physical circumstances that prevent them from repairing their houses. One selected family had adopted several children with disabilities, and then the father became ill and couldn’t work. The family could not afford to make major repairs or make the house accessible.
Along with the show’s staff (designers et al), construction companies, stores, banks, colleges and universities, neighbors and other community members and agencies work together to give the family a new home and new hope. The family is sent on vacation while the makeover takes place, and when the family returns and sees the new home, the family and observers are overcome with joy. Plenty of tears begin to fall (mine included). Pathos!
A few weeks ago, as I walked down the street, I spied a man up ahead, sitting on a curb near the sidewalk, talking and gesturing to some unseen presence. As people passed, he stopped gesturing and asked, “Can you give me something to get something to eat?” No one stopped. His head was turned away from me as I approached him, so I hoped I could sneak past. As luck would have it, just as I reached him, he turned his head toward me and asked me, too, for “something to get something to eat.”
“Sorry! I’m broke,” I replied as I continued walking. Then … a few feet past him, for whatever reason, I decided to give him a dollar. I walked back to him and said, “Here! I can let you have a dollar.” He took it, looked at me and said, “Is this all you have?” I bristled and thought to myself, “What nerve!” Feeling rather indignant, I said, “That’s all I can give you. I don’t have a job.” Then I noticed that the man was actually extending the dollar toward me. Oh, my gosh! I suddenly realized that he was not asking me for more money. He was offering the dollar back to me. He didn’t want to take my dollar if that was all I had. Pathos! Embarrassed but also touched, I assured the man that I was okay, that I could spare the dollar. I continued on my way. When I glanced back over my shoulder, I saw the man talking and gesturing to some figment again.