This I Believe

Bill - Wheaton, Illinois
Entered on May 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

On The Sidewalk

When I was little, I believed that people were always active, always productive. There was a meaning and a reason for every movement everyone made. But one grey afternoon that all changed. That short moment shook my world.

I woke up that morning and I felt great. It was obvious why; we were finally going on our vacation. We were all packed and ready to go, so we left for the airport and got on the plane. When we arrived at our destination, we decided we would take a walk and see the sights of the magnificent New York City. After a while, we turned onto a less busy street and walked a ways. That was when I saw him. He was just a man, like anyone else on that street. The only thing that set him apart was the fact that he was sitting, on the sidewalk, and he held a cardboard sign that had the words, “NEED MONEY FOOD CLOTHES” scribbled onto it.

I didn’t understand it, why would someone simply sit on a sidewalk, doing nothing, living off of other people’s generosity. What could have possibly happened to make a person do that? It boggled me. I focused on the word NEED on his sign. I thought, “Could that be why he sat there? No, it couldn’t. I need too. I need to eat, I need to sleep, and I need to drink. I need just as much as him. But while I accomplish things and prepare myself for the rest of my life, he sits there, on the sidewalk.” I wanted to yell at that man, that simply sat there, “Why do you waste away your life when there is so much you can do? Why did you give up? Why do you sit there just waiting for something to happen? Why do you no longer try to be the best you can be like I know you once did? What could have happened to make you like this?” But there was no point is saying that as I knew that life would go on as it always had for him. Sitting on the sidewalk.

I felt ashamed of him, sitting there, lifeless. Was he a human or simply a dog begging for a scrap of food? He should get up. He was in a magnificent place, New York City. Many people dreamed of living there. But he wasted it. Why couldn’t he get up and walk with us and see the fruits of the labors of the human race? Why did he sit there when there was so much for him to see and do? But he sat still, on the sidewalk.

That man was wasting his life. I do have sympathy for homeless people, but it’s one thing to be homeless and it’s another thing entirely to be a beggar. It simply doesn’t make sense to sit on the sidewalk and let life slide past. Life is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted sitting on a sidewalk. Even if you feel there is no possible way you can go on, I believe there is no excuse for sitting on the side walk, while you have every reason to get out and give what you can to the world.