I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always had as much compassion for the homeless as I should. I spent my teenage years living near downtown Indianapolis, IN. A city that is overly saturated with aggressive panhandlers. Every street corner downtown has someone begging.
They will follow you. They will get angry when you say no. Every exit ramp has someone with a sign. Every bridge with an opening has someone sleeping under it, or even pitching tents. As rule, for most of my life, homeless people have disgusted me. I know that far too many of them are homeless by choice, and the money goes for booze and drugs, not food.
When I first moved to the city I was jumped by four boys on the bus. Coming from the country, and not understanding how to navigate cultural differences, I clashed with the predominantly black and Mexican kids when one asked to see my Walkman radio and immediately started passing it off to his buddies one after the other as I chased after it. I don’t know if they were just messing with me, or actually trying to steal it, but I started swinging. Got jumped by four of them and kicked off the bus. Had to walk a couple miles to school for the next couple of years. The reason I am telling you this is because everyone in my neighborhood (at least the white kids) ended up walking to school eventually, and we had to walk past a place everyone called “hobo alley” by the railroad tracks. Most kids went around instead of cutting across the most direct route because a middle school boy had been lured in there by some homeless men and raped the year before.
Two of my club brothers back when I was in the Vinlanders were eating downtown, and were approached by two homeless men for money. They told them no 3 or 4 times but the guys kept following them and one spit on my club brother and roommate at the time. The Vinlander guys beat the shit out them. The media called it a hate crime because the homeless men were black and those guys went to prison.
My experiences with homeless people haven’t been good, so I have avoided them and never given them anything until the last couple of years. I had never went out of my way to do much of anything else for them until I met Mike and heard what he does, because I just don’t think most of them really want help.
My opinions on the homeless and charity in general have slowly changed over the years, and the reason I’m going into detail here is because it leads me to where I want to try and explain a larger issue. The first 20 or so years of my life I was shaped largely by my reactions to negative experiences. I don’t really apologize for this because it made me strong, cautious and realistic. I realized somewhere in my young life that I would rather be a villain than a victim.
In all fairness, in the last 20 or so years I have been slowly coming to the realization that I took it too far. In my own defense, I never lost sight of basic decency. Despite how the far left fundraising crowd likes to portray me, I have never even been accused of random crimes or mistreating anyone based on race or any other immutable characteristics. That’s because I never did. However, I lost out on friendships and experiences that I had no reason to deprive myself of, and cut down my own effectiveness and productivity in this world by taking my limited early life’s experiences and painting the world with too broad of a brush.
What helped me to come out of that place was positive experiences created by ordinary people. It wasn’t the ADL, the SPLC, or Antifa with all of their alleged anti-hate education and activism. Those groups are actually as bad as the people they claim to oppose as far as I can tell, and more than anything they strengthened my resolve with their lies and impartiality. As a matter of fact I can’t even name Mike’s charity project here because those groups would try and shut it down out of spite because they consider Mike a “white supremacist” just for being a brother to me.
It was actually people like big Mike who changed my perspective, a very large and imposing Mexican guy who assembles his friends from time to time and buys some 5 dollar pizzas and oranges from the orange vendors, and gives a bunch of strangers a decent meal.
People can be rightfully shaped by bad experiences and they should be. If they ignore them, they are fools and willing victims. However, people should also allow themselves to be rightfully shaped by good experiences. Beyond that, we should all strive to create good experiences for strangers in the world. We cannot predict the ripple effects. Simply smiling at people, holding a door, looking another man in the eye and giving him a mans hand shake. These small things multiply.
You don’t necessarily have to feed the homeless. Mike is 6′ plus, 250 plus, and from the hood. It might not even be safe for some people to do what he does. Instead, you can find out who the elderly are that need help in your town. You can clean up an area. You can donate to people who do these things.
We all have no idea how that positivity will spread, and whose life it can change. My life has been changed by the decency of people who had nothing to gain by being decent to me. More than once.