It was early in the morning. I was in a bit of a rush to catch my university-bound bus. I suddenly noticed a man, likely in his mid-twenties, lying on the street. It looked like he had an accident or he was suffering from a bad physical ailment. He looked unkempt—he wasn't wearing sandals or shoes, his faded trousers had dust all over and his shirt unbuttoned. Most of his upper body was exposed to the cold.
Waiting on the roadside, I could clearly hear him struggling to breathe from a distance of almost 20 feet. I was wondering why no one was coming to his aid and whether I should go and offer him assistance.
Then, all of a sudden, a local resident passing by called him a “bloody thief.” I was taken aback by this hurtful comment but later realised that the man lying on the ground had perhaps mugged someone and a mob might have beaten him up. I did not want to pass judgement on him, or anyone else. Maybe he indeed was a thief, but shouldn't we also consider what forced him to choose this path of crime in the first place?
This seemingly casual encounter made me realise a number of things. First, we should reflect on why some people resort to committing petty crimes in the first place, and treat people living on the streets with kindness and empathy. Second, the government needs to be much more committed to uplifting these people from a life of poverty and insecurity.