"I paid another homeless man $20 to teach me this," says Walker, who makes a living by selling art created from palm tree leaves. He then went on to explain that the man who taught him got cancer and died, but he is keeping the tradition alive.
I spotted Walker while exploring the city, and when I stopped to admire his work, he showed me how to make a rose, if I promised I wouldn't teach others. Walker is originally from Tennesee, and I never asked what events led up to him living on the streets of Texas. His art and haunting blue eyes drew me in, but he was more approachable because he didn't appear to have obvious mental issues or using drugs. Walker sent me off with a palm leaf rose made especially for me, but my giddiness was immediatly killed. As soon as I walked away, a stranger made a comment to not give "them" the time of day. I defended Walker and explained I had talked to him by choice, but this person went on to argue that he must have put himself on the streets due to decisions he made. "Think about it," they concluded as they patronized me. There was no need to continue my arguement with that person.
What they said could be true, but contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of homeless people over 50 years old have lived a conventional life and became homeless in their later years due to finances and lack of outside support. Although there are homeless who have a past filled with drug use, mental disorders and abuse, this is not always the case. Either way, mistakes or not, why treat Walker or anyone else with contempt now?
I encounter homeless people on a daily basis, so I may or may not be doing more of these posts. I believe it's important to work for a cause, not applause, and by posting this I hope that at least someone decides they want to help restore the human in humanity. With all the chaos and loss going on in the world, let's try to be better humans together.