Worlds Apart

This blog will be a follow on to “Invisible” posted in mid June 2021. In Invisible I talked about those in the community who deserved the dignity of being acknowledged being ignored by the general population. I discussed how acknowledging someone living rough doesn’t need handout, often all they are looking for is a simple “hi, how are you” followed by a minute of conversation. Seems simple enough however people remain fearful of acknowledging others because they don’t understand they don’t need to be involved, only aware. I experience this daily when roaming with my Zimmer Frame people look at my sign and then quickly glance away not willing to acknowledge me.

Yesterday I had an enlightening experience when I asked a Big Issue seller how he was doing. He was wearing an old fashioned army camouflage top though I got the feeling he wasn’t a Veteran. Once he’d answered he asked what I was doing, so I took him through my aim of erasing awareness of Veterans in the community and the challenges they face. He mulled over this for around a minute before responding with, “I don’t think I can do much for Veterans mate, would you like a free xmas card”. Here’s a guy that’s living rough, not asking for handouts and looking to earn some money and he still thinks of others. I was touched by his generosity, it really made my day.

Most of us live in our own worlds where we go to work or school during the day and retreat to he security of our homes at night. We have side trips to various venues to socialise, gym or shop then return home. We function in our own individual world’s blissfully unaware of the other worlds out here. I’ll talk about two of these worlds today that I notice and interact with. There will be many others out there but two is a good start.

The first “alternate” world I’ll write about is inhabited by those, who for what ever reason, can’t survive in normal society and need help to do stuff the majority of us regard as second nature. Things like getting dressed, going to school, eating etc … I see these people during the day when they are out in the community with their carers. These people have a variety of medical conditions that prevent a life we consider normal and without the NDIS and their carers would face a life restricted to their accomodation or care facility.

I see dozens of these people everyday as they come out to enjoy the sunlight, in a park or view of the ocean. Regardless of their condition it is easy to see the joy getting outside and interacting with others brings. Be it a physical reaction such as hand clapping and smiling or the light in their eyes it makes me smile to see those that live in this world getting as much as they can out of life.

Now you may be wondering why I call this an alternate world or even be a little upset that that I talk about this section of our community. That’s ok, but keep reading and come on a journey with me.

This alternate world and its inhabitants exist in parallel to the world we exist in. It is most active when we are all at work, school or going about our normal daily lives. This means that we remain oblivious to this world and the people in it. Now this isn’t a bad thing, actually its pretty normal. It’s the same as many events overseas that we remain unaware of as they don’t impact on us. That said I think its important we understand and acknowledge this world and where possible interact with it. Interaction doesn’t have to be big or financial. Find out if there are people requiring assistance in your neighbourhood and offer to give their careers a rest by minding those in need for a couple of hours. read them a book or just be there as company. Just like the Big Issue seller I spoke with, he realised that doing something small can have a positive impact.

The next world I’d like to talk about is the “living rough” world. As with the first world the majority of people don’t recognise these inhabitants as they have no interaction with them. Take a minute to think about the simple things we take for granted that those who live rough go without. At home of a night the majority of us give no thought to food availability, hot showers and a secure, comfortable place to sleep. Our homes are our individual worlds and we rarely interact with those on the street.

The things we take for granted and normal in our lives are the same things that those living rough struggle to find. Imagine leaving your belongings somewhere you consider safe only to return and find the local rangers have confiscated everything you own. Or sleeping in a park hoping that as you sleep you won’t be assaulted or robbed. Wondering where you next meal, hot shower or clean clothes will come from. We don’t think of these challenges as we’re secure in our lives. To some though these challenges affect their ability to exist and return to our “normal” world.

Again not knowing this world exists isn’t a crime or reflection on who we are as people. That this world exists, and always will, is not the fault of us as people or a community. Sometimes an individuals circumstance changes suddenly and they gave no ability to stop the move into the living rough world.

So where am I going with this rambling blog. For me I think the little things count. There are a number of organisations out there helping those that can’t help themselves, helping people get back on their feet, having regular meals and giving people of dignity through providing services such as laundry and hot showers. More than donations these organisations are reliant on volunteers who give their time to help others. This is where I am going with the blog. Imagine if we all gave four hours a fortnight for volunteering. It doesn’t matter where or when, whether it be your time or a Corporate Social Responsibility program at work. If one thousand people gave four ours a fortnight that’s four thousand hours or the equivalent of 500 work days a fortnight or thirteen thousand days a year. Imagine what we could achieve!

So if we recognise there is more than one “world” within Australia and, as a community, do something small to help out these worlds then I believe instead of worlds apart we will become one world together. If you’re wondering about the individual benefits of acknowledging and helping those in need I encourage you to read my blog “Be Selfish” posted in July 2021. In this blog I describe how you can become selfless through being selfish.

Remember, small gestures matter

Published by zimmermanwalks

An Australian military veteran, I spend my time volunteering for a number of organisations and blogging on the challenges faced by Veterans.

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