Recently the internet published a despicable act of ignorance from a fast food restaurant employee that made my skin boil - not simply because of what he did, but also because he was encouraged by the people actually filming the unconscionable act of disrespect and dehumanization (video here).
My initial response to the online video was sadness. That sadness quickly turned into the type of internal vigilantism that wanted to see an equal reaction bestowed upon the employee and amateur filmmakers. Fortunately, my mom raised me to respect everyone while allowing people to have enough room to be themselves. Having said that, I chose this route of communication to espouse an opinion that is both educational and thought-provoking.
Imagine not being recognized as a person, as a human being, as someone’s loved one (father, uncle, cousin, brother or son) by other people? What do you think that would feel like? Imagine being afflicted by mental illness and/or an addiction; what would that feel like? Now finally, imagine that on top of those previously mentioned conditions, you’re homeless! Again I ask, what do you think that would feel like?
If you’re fighting for the appropriate words to describe what you would feel like if you were in that position, I submit to you that there are people among us that deal with that feeling every single day. They are people that deserve our compassion and the support to heal. They don’t deserve to be disrespected and treated as though they are a nuisance to society. I asked a couple of my colleagues what they felt after reviewing the video - they reported that they immediately felt disgust and were calling for the employee to be “fired immediately” (no sensitivity training, no apology, and no redemption). One colleague went so far as to describe the act as the “dehumanization” of a person in need.
Finally, when does the type of human nature that encourages us to live by the golden rule of “treat others how you want to be treated” take over the sadistic urge to degrade and witness violent acts as a form of entertainment? Everything about this was wrong: the act itself, filming the act, encouraging the act, laughing about the act, and having the dysfunctional audacity to post the act … all wrong. It’s time to get it right. Respect people, talk to people, serve people, and help someone else to get to a better place in their lives if needed. If you're as outraged as I was and want to find out ways to help people in need, I'd love to explore some options with you. Please join in the discussion - I would love to know your thoughts and I would like to carry on the discussion of mental illness, addiction, and homelessness.
Contact Mr. Sampson here.