Homeless in Toronto

This week, for a few days in a row, I took a different route than usual. I found myself noticing the panhandlers and realized the folks with their Tim Hortons cups that I normally pass had become such a part of the urban wallpaper that I no longer paid any attention to them. Shame on me.

Some among the members of this new group seemed more creative than most. One had a hand-lettered sign on a battered piece of cardboard saying, “Not a bad person.” Another had written, “I’m trying.”

In my neighbourhood there are two regulars I walk by all the time, a man and a woman. They both read paperbacks as if they can no longer bother trying to make eye contact. As I struggled to find some change the man said, “It’s OK, it’s the thought that counts.” My tooney seemed pretty paltry by comparison with such grace.

We apologize as a nation to people from the past we never met. We worry about repaying those whose youth was stolen at residential schools. We airlift and make welcome 25,000 Syrians we never knew. Why can’t we do something for the lost souls in our midst?

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