6 December, 2015
On a chilly day, I decided to conduct a social experiment downtown. I saw a homeless man on the street who was huddled in a blanket with his dog. His clothes were tattered and he was obviously cold. His dog did not look healthy either and its bones were visible. People passed by him like they didn’t exist, for they scurried quickly to shop for the holidays. My friend and I had bought a fresh baked twelve inch pizza from the parlor minutes ago; my friend went up and happily gave this man the pizza and wished him happy holidays. The homeless man was not only delighted but tearful and thanked my friend with sincere gratitude. As the man began to eat the pizza, I went up and sat next to him and he greeted me with a warm welcome. I told him I was very hungry and didn’t have money to buy any food, and I asked him if I could take a slice. He eagerly opened the box and took out the biggest slice he had and gave it to me. At that point, I was rendered in a complete shock. The homeless man did not have much, but he still gave me what he had to help me out. I quickly gave the slice of pizza back to him and introduced myself and my experiment. I explained to him that I was intrigued by his benevolent actions; he told me that giving things to the people in need meant a lot more than receiving. He explained that the feeling one gets from giving outmatches the feeling when one receives something. My friend and I sat with the man for an hour, chatting up about how he ended up being homeless; we quickly befriended him. He told us he never had people who would sit down and talk to him, and this was one of the things he valued the most. He said that “a homeless person could have all the food in the world, but what matters most are people who are willing to interact with him/her”. After staying with the man, we gave him one hundred dollars to help him get food for the next few days.
In the end, this experiment I had was truly none like the others. I learned that the sense of community can be one of the most powerful things in life, but most importantly, giving things to someone can mean so much more than receiving. If we give more, we are also receiving. The generosity can ricochet and come back as gratitude and love. Often, we do not have to receive something physical such as a thankful gift card. This form of gift that one receives when he/she gives can last much longer, something much more powerful. A physical gift can only last a certain time period. However, gratitude and the act of giving can mean something to someone their entire life. Undoubtedly, we should all encourage each other to give and receive because it is part of the human culture and community.