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The officer and the homeless/shoeless man in New York

Posted Dec 05 2012 10:10am

You know what I’m referring – the NY Officer who knelt down and gave a homeless man a pair of socks and shoes. A bystander took the picture and it soon went viral.

(Had “the picture” posted in this space but just didn’t feel right about it.)

I don’t want to rain on the hero officer’s parade because I truly believe he had a genuine heart in helping this man out.  I respect this officer’s kind gesture but please people – we are making a HUGE deal out of this and I’m becoming more and more uncomfortable with it.

I’ve had several reactions to this story and it has progressed and changed from the first time I heard about it.

1) So sweet for this officer to buy this man boots – totally warmed my heart

***a few days later when this becomes more of a phenomenon and goes viral***

2) Why is this so shocking and newsworthy? And should it be?

Matthew 25:36-40
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'  "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

I have no clue if this officer was moved by the Holy Spirit to give this man boots or if this was simply a most wonderful act of kindness from a warm and humanitarian heart. Either way, in this situation,  it reveals a tender hearted man and by media reaction it seems to show just how much we crave this kind of love and self sacrifice in our world. I wonder if we’re all asking, “would I do that?”

I’m glad this story is getting such wide spread awareness but then again I’m just not sure why I’m so weird feeling about it. Part of me wants to say, “Hello, people, this is what we should be doing without all the hoopla and shock value attached.” This officer hasn’t seemed to seek any attention from all this but is being thrown into it by popular demand. And I’m glad our world is recognizing kindness as something to be upheld and respected.

3) Was there truly a legitimate need for boots in this situation? And should that matter?

I know it’s skeptical to think such a thing but as it turns out, according to a New York Post article and others, there’s a good case this man didn’t really need the boots. I refuse to link to the article because I found it to be nothing short of poor journalism, although credible sources were cited. After reading several articles I actually feel bad for this barefooted gentleman (hear me out…) because it’s like he’s on cyber trial and every last thing he’s ever done is being spread across the country – is that even legal?! I don’t care if every bit of it is true. A snap of a picture and an upload of that picture has grown into sending this man’s “record” all over the United States. And he was just sitting there barefoot that day. It sounds like I’m portraying him as a double victim: homeless and now exploited. But I’m not. His own family says he is choosing this lifestyle and it appears he is. But that’s his prerogative. So I don’t think he’s a victim of homelessness and I don’t feel bad for him in regards to that. But by taking and posting his picture which is now turning into a wide open record of his not so far “past” – albeit choices he has made – I feel like a very distinct line has been crossed.

So I have been asking myself this question: was that picture of that random act of kindness worth posting? It got that officer all kinds of praise and attention – none of which he was asking for. And it got the man choosing a homeless lifestyle a pair of boots and all kinds of negative attention – none of which he was asking for.

I don’t know. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t.

Do you have thoughts on this?

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