Day 9 of Project Cheer! Today's cheer is brought to you by Jan-Michael Sacharko of A-SPAN. New to Project Cheer? Here's the recap.
Cheer #9) Listen
There are lots of intelligent people out there that hold opinions differing from yours. There are also many people who choose to ignore facts, go from their gut, and sometimes say things that you just can’t believe. You and I are among at least one of these groups. For everyone on the opposite side of the political aisle or issue (personal or political), there is the instinct to react before we think. So to spread cheer today and onward, I say DON’T JUST REACT!
Think. Listen. Consider. Read. Research. Respond. Spread some intelligent and considered thought. Know why you hold your opinion. Respect the other person as a person. You may not sway them and they may not sway you, but the exchange will add to the conversation rather than distract from solving the problem. An unmeasured, unreasonable response often looks like one thing: hate. Don’t hate. As my friend Shay Kelley says: Spread the Love.
Bonus Day 9 cheer: Give freely
“They’re only going to spend it on drugs and alcohol.”
I hear this very often in regard to people giving money to people on the street. Having worked at homeless shelters for 10 years, I have my own thoughts on this simple act of charity. I can’t refuse anyone if I am asked. I am not particularly religious, but I always think of the Catholic version of the Golden Rule – that which you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.
Perhaps they may buy drugs or alcohol in order to escape the situation they are in, wouldn’t you? If you do not feel comfortable or safe giving money on the street, there are many other ways that you can help such as handing out gift certificates or food. Donate to a homeless shelter or organization. Wanna go simpler? Talk to the person. Say hello. Smile. Acknowledge their humanity. Recognize for a second that the person asking you for a quarter is a person who would like to improve their situation. Then please, remember that the rest of the year.
Jan is the director of A-SPAN. They provide life-sustaining services for Arlington, VA, street homeless. You can follow Jan on Twitter at @janmichaelDC or visit here.