There are times we tend to look at people—people who have lost themselves along the way, as those kinds of people. We are all those kinds of people.
We forget that they are somebody’s. They, at one time or still, do belong to someone out there. And they still belong to themselves even if they can’t remember who they are.
The drug addict on the street corner? He is somebody’s son, or brother, or sister, or mother, or father etc. He is not only a drug addict. She is someone who used to have dreams of her own and someone in the world used to dream for her. He used to be a child who rode a bike and swam in the lake and got an award or two in school. She did not intend to become who she did. They are remembered by somebody who loved them. There are people who are praying and hoping upon hope that their loved one comes back to themselves.
That woman sitting at the bar? The drunk one, sliding off the stool and flirting with a man she will hope to take home? She used to be somebody’s child. Maybe life wasn’t easy and maybe life was too easy—does it really matter? Somebody somewhere is begging God to get her home safely tonight. And she might be begging God to just end it all. And the man—maybe he’s lonely and maybe he is just someone who doesn’t know how to love anyone. But I am thinking somewhere, somebody must be wondering about him too.
The old man sitting on the front porch? You know him, the one who spends all summer guarding his grass—making sure not one stranger steps on one single blade. He once was somebody’s brother who played baseball in the old field behind the barn. He once had a sweetheart who loved him dearly. He might have lost her to another man. He may have lost himself fighting for his country in some far off land. Maybe his mother died long ago and at night—on star filled nights, maybe he misses her kiss on his brow goodnight.
The homeless on the streets? The ones who ask you for spare change? The ones that people step over to get on with their busy lives? “I won’t give them money. They’ll just buy drugs or booze.” Or not. Somebody once held each in their arms when they were born and looked upon them with wonder and amazement. Maybe they even had bigger dreams than I have ever dreamed. Maybe they wish they were anywhere but here—in this moment—asking for my mercy in the form of a dollar.
We cannot protect each other from some of the most awful things in life. So much of what happens—drug abuse, battery, loneliness, sorrow, violence, divorce, death, bitterness— knows no differences of who the person is they happen to. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, loved our whole lives or not loved at all. Our race, our sex, our religion cannot shelter us from the world. And somebody in this world is affected by each somebody out there who is struggling and even by those who have already given up.
There may not be much any of us can do to change another’s situation. But we can acknowledge each other as human and we can at least offer the simple kindness of not judging. We can also remember that somebody is out there hoping and praying and dreaming for this person.
I say a prayer for each person in my life who is somewhere or in some way lost. Just as I hope there is somebody to say the same prayer for me.
Monika M. Basile