Fortune seems to be the word of the moment for me; it keeps recycling itself and coming back to haunt me! On the one hand I’m not surprised, because I feel I’ve had my fare share of it. I was born into a middle class family, privately educated, for the most part and afforded the grants to enable me to attain undergraduate as well as postgraduate degrees. As a result of this start in my life, my career path has enabled me to get jobs in disciplines that require scientific, engineering and management skills, which later led to positions outside my original education and training, including giving me sufficient wit to own and manage my own company for a while.
Recently, I become involved, through the initiative and actions of Peter Wilkin, a Poet friend and co-author of the anthology, “Petrichor Rising”, which we published in July this year, in a charitable project, which is an early rising star of the social networks, called the Rucksack Project.
The Rucksack Project is relatively little known charitable concern, set up within the last two years by one man, Matthew White. It is not a registered charity because it does not accept donations. Instead, it empowers people physically to contribute their time along with the resources of local charity shops to make up a rucksack containing several essential material items aimed at helping to sustain homeless people against the cold Winter weather.
Whilst in the process of preparation for this rucksack ‘drop’, which is planned to take place in Bradford, UK, on 21st December, I was recently told a story by a fellow chorister of his meeting with a homeless person. In brief he had passed the gentleman of the road on his way to a well-known fast food restaurant for a quick bite. Because my friend didn’t have any change, instead, whilst getting his own meal, he bought and extra meal and a cup of hot coffee. On his way back to where they were performing, he explained why he hadn’t stopped before and gave the homeless person the meal and coffee he’d just purchased and carried on his way.
Within a few paces, he felt the meal, still in its bag, fly past his left ear; clearly, it wasn’t wanted by its homeless recipient. My friend uttered his displeasure to us with the swift judgement of one who maybe hasn’t experienced at first hand, the kind of issues that drives people to become homeless, which include alcoholism and drug addiction; which in turn can be caused by pre-existing mental health issues, neglect or abuse, particularly as children. Or perhaps my friend had just not thought about it long enough to come to a more humane conclusion.
I would say to anyone who has not been touched in some way by a mental health issue, in a family member or a friend, or who has not come across a child or teenager, who has been abused – either physically or mentally – and consequently disenfranchised from family life; tossed into the precarious position of depending on the largesse of others or the state; they are not work shy wasters! Instead of throwing charity at them and running, try sitting down beside them, talk to them and find out what is their story … and listen. If they have become an agitated addict, this won’t be easy, but do try, because you may be surprised how much it means to them to be treated like a fellow human being, like equals. It behoves us to remember how lucky we are. There but for fortune go we.
– John Anstie
© 2013, essay, John Anstie, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ LHC -CHERN Cocument Server licensed under CC A-SA 3.0 Unported License
JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (UK).
John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising“. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.
* Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.