Part III-Epilogue

I’ve just talked about the same story through the lens of three different social factors: age, gender, and race. Did I do each of these factors justice? With the limited time and writing I gave to each, I’d say no–there’s much more to be explored in each of them. But one thing I didn’t really address was what all three of these interactions in the story had in common. All of them were moments of giving, and they were moments that were also deeply, painfully, yet beautifully human.

One can ask: was it right for each of us to have given something? From a certain perspective, it could have been. After the man had left, my friend said to me that whatever the reason he needed money, he probably needed it more than she did. When I gave the man some of what I had, I knew that it was incredibly cold outside. He may have genuinely needed it to get a blanket to keep himself and someone else warm that day. When the woman gave my friend a twenty, she did it with the recognition of what my friend had just went through. Perhaps she was trying to make something positive out of the situation. All three of us gave something, and it induced a turn of events–a change that hopefully created something positive in the end.

From another perspective, though, my friend and I were naïve. Perhaps we were too trusting, and we could have given some more thought before deciding how to respond to the man who approached us. Perhaps he didn’t need the money. This perspective may be a more practical and cautious one to take, but when taken to an extreme it leaves something to be desired. If you are guarded and cautious all the time when people approach you for help, when will you ever risk being vulnerable in helping them?

These two perspectives raise questions of the belief and the doubt, of the trust and the uncertainty, that emerges when humans interact with each other. Part of navigating these all too human experiences is finding your way through their complexity, and recognizing the ambiguity that comes with them. It’s a process both of belief and of questioning, a process that is something human–and perhaps it contains a spark of something greater, too.

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