My local Big Issue seller and I have what I like to think is a somewhat unique relationship — that is, I bother to acknowledge his existence (whether I am buying a Big Issue or not) and he bothers to acknowledge mine (likewise), while for the most part the majority of people wander by without a second glance in his direction, some actively avoiding his gaze and others even taking the trouble to cross the street. But don’t get me wrong here, I can understand why people avoid the guy — I won’t deny it, I have avoided people like him in the past, for whatever reason — and I also highly doubt that he stands there eagerly expecting me to walk past and spend £2. All I’m saying is that from the look he gives me when he hands my Issue over, I am willing to bet that this moment means something, however small that something might be. I like to think I’m someone who he doesn’t look at and think What an arsehole.
I don’t buy The Big Issue for his personal charity or self-esteem, of course, or to make myself feel better and like more of a good person — I do it because The Big Issue is actually a good read and I’m always up for supporting a good cause if I can. That’s really all there is to it.
I see it like this: the way our lives eventually turn out is, to a large degree, dependant on thousands of unique combinations which are wildly out of our control. Our lives are also dependant on numerous other factors which are established well before we are even born and are nobody’s real choosing — things like history, soco-economic standing and family status. Things which just are the way they are. Yes, people who grow up as orphans or are abused for years probably have just as much power to change their circumstances as anyone else, but don’t miss the point: really, the gap between how some people end up on the streets and how you ended up in your high-paying, high-flying job is much smaller than you think. Flick a switch and everything really can change.
If you like to read and want to support people who are genuinely trying to help themselves, The Big Issue is a fantastic place to start. If someone took a risk and gave you a chance and it paid off for you, why not give it a go and help someone else out?
(This post is not affiliated in any way whatsoever with The Big Issue!)