In America, we have gotten to a place where we are losing one of our most innate functions as living beings, communication with one another. How many times do you walk past people, or hold a door for someone, or even sit next to someone and not speak a word? How often do we see a homeless person and pretend as if we cannot hear their cries for help? These small choices have large ripples on the state of which our species currently exists; we have grown to lack understanding and relatability of each other. Because we don't speak, we assume that all Muslims are terrorists or that all Blacks are uneducated, or that all women are weak. Because we choose not to understand, our perceptions are based on fabricated conclusions that we have created and that is what divides us.
Often times, I look at Nature as a source of understanding and one thing that is clear amongst other species and even other humans in less capitalist societies, is that communication is a necessity. We ask questions of how we got to a place of destroying each other and the planet at the same time but look past the most obvious answer, communication. It is much easier to kill, steal from, bully & take advantage of something that you don't understand but by having a simple conversation, we can eliminate it all.
Walking through DuPont on my way to a shoot, I see this homeless man but there's something different than the typical sight that we see as homeless. This man, Lorenzo, is not only young but he's spreading positive energy to everyone that walks by. With each person passing by, he attempts to engage in conversation but fails, and then again, and then again, and then again. But what remains unwavering, is his desire to still try. This was interesting to me as I approached from a distance. Me, myself, I had no money to give (because usually I try to give when I can) but I did have a "hello, have a blessed one" in me. So as I approach and let him know that I didn't have any money to give, before I can even get out the "...be blessed", Lorenzo looks at me and says, "Thanks anyway, I hope you become a millionaire one day". Now to most, that might not mean much. If he had said that to many of you, it might have not even registered til much later on that those words were his response but it caught my attention. I stopped, thought about it, adjusted my camera settings and walked back to engage in a positive conversation.
As we talked, Lorenzo told me that he was an artist and that his goal is to not only teach but to uplift. Through a series of unfortunate events, his path led him to the place in life but from the lessons and understanding that came with each, he knew that what he really needed to be for people was a light. "I'm out here asking for change but if everyone said 'Hi' to me as they walk by, I would be just as happy every day", Lorenzo told me. Too often , to avoid making ourselves feel uncomfortable, do we make other feel uncomfortable by not even looking their way, this is selfish. A grown man, strong and full of positive energy and life stands on the street daily, in search of a simple 'Hello'. "If everyone gave me a smile and 'Hi', I would feel human but instead they walk by". And that's understandable because standing in a place all day and being walked by as if you don't exist, can take a toll on you mentally. He's young, he hasn't been at it too long but can you imagine the people that are about older, the ones you call crazy and choose to turn a blind eye to? Have you ever thought what got them to that point? In this moment, this conversation I had with Lorenzo, I understood the cycle. There's only so much a human can take before we feel as if our voices don't matter and not long after that, do we feel like our lives don't matter. And once you've gotten there, all hope can be presumed lost.
We never know what anyone goes through, all we know is what we perceive. It may seem minuscule but as you are walking throughout your day, say hello to a stranger. Start a conversation while in transit or at a store making purchases. As humans, we seek acknowledgement and connection with other humans, from the biggest introvert to the biggest extrovert. We all want engagement. Brighten someone's day, by simply speaking. You'll be surprised the things you learn and take away from simple conversation.