Today while handing out sandwiches and snack packs to hundreds on the streets of Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo there was one man that stood out as he politely declined our humble lunch packs.
The man was most likely living rough on Sydney streets, had most of his belongings on him and looked like he could've used our small food gesture. When I asked if he was sure he didn't want it he replied:
"No thanks, I've just eaten. Keep it for someone else who needs it"
I was immediately floored, and felt a rush of happiness come over me as he smiled and turned away. I've been volunteering with the homeless and disadvantaged for 25 years and they have certainly taught me so much about greed, and only taking what you need.
Seeing people living rough is definitely an eye-opener if you're not used to being in this environment. I was exposed to homelessness and drug abuse at a young age, as my parents were volunteers, so I guess I've always been around it.
More often than not, it's the people that have the least that give and forgo the most. This also goes for those who donate and give up their time. It's generally those that have had a middle / lower-class upbringing. I often wonder why this is.
I've spoken to a lot of people and I've done some research over the years and what the homeless has taught me about greed is that you only ever take what you need at the time. You see, those who know struggle, poverty and to go without really understand what that means.
If you have always "had" and have never gone without, you are likely to not truly understand what it means to look for your next meal, or never have money in your bank. Which is also why those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to donate and give to charity - because they have experienced that reality and know how hard life can be.
Of course that isn't to say that there are some very generous wealthy people around - there are! But it's humbling to see people that need so much, politely decline as they aren't hungry. Perspective certainly is powerful.