I know a man who used to own a mansion on my street. His house was surrounded by a massive fence and a gate made of reinforced steel. He was a very benevolent and humble man despite being affluent beyond comprehension. This man was also very patient with people. You could see him talking to homeless folk and addicts in the evenings on his way back from work. They would all rush to meet him in front of his compound whenever they heard the sound of his car returning from work. He always stopped to hand them a dollar each before driving into his compound.
One evening, as I was leaning on the railings on my verandah, I witnessed something very interesting. The man came in at a very high speed. Instead of winding down his glass, as usual, to talk with the homeless folk as was the tradition, he just drove into his compound and the gate locked behind him. You could see the dejection on the faces of the homeless folk. They all dispersed slowly in various directions into the darkness, muttering words to each other as they left. I tried to understand why the man decided to ignore them that evening. Maybe he had a bad day at work. Maybe he was just too tired to hang around. It might be possible he had lost his job and was in a foul mood. But these were speculations and we would never know for sure.
I went back to my living room and turned on the News. After what seemed like an hour or maybe even more, I was awoken by a cacophony of voices screaming and wailing in the street. I rushed to the verandah to see what was happening. A crowd had gathered in front of the man’s gate, and from the body language of those in the crowd, something terrible had happened.
When I got downstairs, one of my neighbors told me what had happened. One of the addicts had mugged a young girl on her way back from extra lessons. The lad was one of the victims of the massive layoff by the man’s companies. He had been so depressed that he decided to use drugs as his escape from reality. Eventually, he became homeless and had to feed off scraps in order to get his daily ‘fix’ and some food to eat. He finally became a proper addict and could no longer function without the drugs. His only hope was the dollar the man gave them every evening. So, when the man had come back today and ignored them, most of them went out into the streets and started mugging people in desperation. It was during one of these altercations that the homeless lad mistakenly stabbed a girl who wouldn’t let go of her bag. The girl was the man’s daughter.
As soon as I heard the sirens, I knew it was time to flee the scene because, in this town, first responders always ended up in jail as the main suspects. On my way back to my flat, I couldn’t help but ponder, “A dollar is not much, but how much is it really worth?”
The extra dollar you don’t want to give to someone might actually turn out to be the penny for which you are mindlessly killed. We go about every day doing good for people or treating them badly without realizing the impact we have on their lives and they on ours. A dollar not given is remembered more than a million given. Life is like a sea. It comes around and flows away in waves.