The Homeless Doctor



I met my homeless brother a few years ago. When I first met him I could not forget his kind words and the depth of his vocabulary, he took me by surprise. After a few minutes and questions into our first conversation I realized he was a doctor, a professor. He came to Canada many years ago.


With time he became more and more interesting, I looked forward to meeting my friend and engaging in intelligent conversations and giving him sandwiches and tea. I must say that he has one of the most optimistic and positive spirits.


Then one day he told me he finally got into Metro Housing. I was so happy that he did not have to be in the cold anymore. Months went by and I heard that he was concerned about his home. Metro Housing has such strict rules that they suck the freedom out of humanity and they push individuals back on the streets. Our special places like freedom, individuality, freedom of speech, our dignities and human rights, are the things that we may not think about everyday but when these are compromised or there are conflicts we lose our peace of mind.


It was quite a cold morning today and there were many people sleeping outside under cardboard boxes at city hall. Like every other morning, I walked on my toes not to wake anybody but as I put down a sandwich and water beside one man sleeping under a box, he turned around and I saw my good friend, the Professor.


I was so shocked. It truly broke my heart. He told me they kicked him out of Metro Housing because he had too many books.


I came back to the Hummer, sat down and prayed for him. I could not believe the injustice.

I thought of my friends and other secretaries in the past with PhDs, I felt so happy and proud of their successes such as owning many books representing knowledge and their achievements. But yet, in the same city, if you are labelled as poor, you are viewed a different class in which the consequences are so much injustice. Perhaps it is a horrific crime to take someone’s home away and leave them in the freezing cold.


As a matter of fact that is the first thing he said to me this morning, ‘ABBAS I am cold, do you have a blanket for me?’


I think about governments and their policies around the world and I realize that they do not understand the social aspects of the poorest of the poor, after all they study politics not human values. Not only does the government not have the right understanding, theory or experience to serve the poor but they serve them with punishment.


This is the homeless doctor’s perspective On the Merits of Service for humanity and the poorest of the poor, written and given to me by the Professor last year.




On the Merits of Service


In the long struggle of man for meaning in Life and the quest to make sense of his universe and the riddle of the unknown, he has been through the long pitfalls of trial and error.  All those treasures (and also miseries) that resulted from that ancient odyssey that is still on going are stored in the collective memory of mankind and in the books of history. 


At times we learn from that memory.  We also draw lessons from those historical milestones of the past.  But alas, many a time, we have been condemned by our immaturity and folly to repeat patterns of dismay and get relegated to the task of suffering from past errors and the repetition of past mistakes.  Much of this human trauma has to do with the obstinacy to learn and also from the base instincts of selfishness and the de-humanization of the others. 


In the relationship of man with his fellow humans there is no better guarantee to peace and tranquility than Peace.  Such a peace emanates from the soul of man.  It gives the person the contentment to live with one’s self in a relationship of self-respect that is clean from conflict.  And then comes the relationship with the others.  It is Peace that is key to the harmony of human society. 


If you, nevertheless, look around you in the management of our organized society you will notice that much is spent in wealth and time, in energy and thinking, on the issues of war and defense rather than in breaking the fences that separate people and the spreading of the message of love, cooperation, and solidarity.  The concord in the relationship of I-and-Thou that is to be built on the sound foundation of amity, of concern for one another, of cooperation, and brotherhood, is turned to a hellish drama of strife, fear, suspicion, competition, cruelty, domination, and conflict. 


We have been taught otherwise by all the great souls that have walked on this planet since times immemorial.  All the sages and all the great spiritual schools and religions are of one mind in the sterling quality and superiority of love over all other sentiments.  That is patent guarantee of our salvation and our happiness.  And that is written in the most ancient of papyri and in the letter of the logos and the transcendental messages of the great religions. 


If faith gives man endurance, if hope enables us to cope with the cataclysms of life, it is love only that is forever abiding and that ever remains to be a fresh fountain-head of peace, progress, and, yes, prosperity.  Love builds.  Love elevates.  Love empowers.  And also love has a natural quality, which is one of the secrets of its perennial life end evergreen beauty.  That is the characteristic of giving. 


While all else consumes, love supplies.  While all else demands, love gives.  While all else is ephemeral, love is permanent and ever steady.  It is the gateway to salvation.  It is the door to peace.  I always liked the quotation from Mother Teresa when she said, “Peace begins with a smile.” 


That smile is the spark of love, of friendship, of peace.  It is no wonder that erstwhile atheistic yet humanistic schools of philosophy such as existentialism would bear witness to such a fact.  The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, actively engaged in social work and world peace into his old age is famed for saying that all we have, we owe it to others, to the people.  Therefore, we have to serve others; we have to serve the people. 


Service is the locomotive in which love travels.  In the service of others, in our empathy to those who have different outlooks, in our sympathy and active help to those who are less advantaged than ourselves, we are opening the gates of heaven to our souls, and also to their souls.  We are singing the hymn of the brotherhood of the human family.  We also exhibit a power and an ability that conquers hate, that transcends the self, that obliterates indifferences.  By service we are building bridges to others to travel in peace into the community of the soul of humanity.  We are also building bridges to our creator and our higher self that gives us gratification and a deep sense of accomplishment.


No man is an island.  As much as we have to support ourselves, what are we if we stop there?  What are we if we lack what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called, “The strength to love”?  Woe to us if we forget to love.  Woe to us if we fail to express that love through the service of our fellow human beings. 


Having said that, I would like to come down to the street of this city where I live and make note of the acts of love and mercy, service and selflessness that I see happening.  The car, the yellow truck it is called, that Abbas mans and which brings bread, clothing, and hope to the homeless in my neighbourhood is a good sign of that manifestation of love, of service, of caring for others, and of sharing with others the tangible necessities of life, and also the intangible messages of the soul. 


The young volunteers from here and also from overseas, the corps of associates who put in time in the service of the downtrodden and the marginalized are ambassadors of the love that I have spoken of.  By their example, they touch the life of so many people, in so many different ways. 


I am sure, the prayers pouring out of all those lips will resonate in their life, and uplift them in the ways of their need.  I cannot commend you enough in the work you’re doing.  I bless you, adding my voice to the voice of the multitudes who pray for you and praise you. 


I want to conclude by sharing with you the depth of the appreciation of this community for your work.  I want you to know that you are making a difference.  It is small steps like these that will increase and turn to a tide of pilgrimage and a march, a marathon and a saga for the transformation of the world.  By a step at a time, by day-by-day, by one good act at a time, by a smile, by a helping hand, by a word of cheer, we keep the flame of hope alive and we keep the symphony of love playing. 


God Bless You.


Mother Teresa




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