The television series “Secret Millionaire” follows some of America’s wealthiest people for one week as they leave behind their lavish lifestyles and go to live and volunteer in some of the most impoverished and dangerous cities in America. In this clip, millionaire John Ferber helps distribute necessary items to the homeless on skid row, where social worker Amin offers one man the shoes off his feet. Ask yourself, what is right with this picture?
John Ferber was expecting somebody to make off with all of the items that they were giving out to the homeless, but everybody came by, took one item, and then expressed tremendous gratitude. The humility he expresses in this scene is, in itself, kind of humbling. To have his expectations contradicted, to be shown just how strong and generous people are, even when pushed to the very brink of survival, clearly shakes him to his core, and he doesn’t hesitate to express that he’s been humbled by the strength and decency on display.
The biggest moment in this scene is when the social worker, Amin, sees a disabled man walking with beat up, filthy old shoes, and without even thinking about, yanks his own shoes right off his feet and hands them to the man. John struggles to hold back tears of awe, and many viewers will have a hard time not getting a little choked up as well.
John signed up for this program with a sense of curiosity, bravery and generosity, and came away with a sense of awe.
Amin is clearly driven by his generosity, his sense of citizenship, and his kindness. Many people who work in charity are doing it for their own interests. Many wealthy people donate to charity simply for the tax breaks. Some public figures get involved for the fame and glory that comes from appearing to be a good person before the public eye. Others, like Amin, simply can’t live with themselves if they watch somebody walk by with busted shoes and they don’t do anything. Whether they’re driven by some inner sense of guilt or pride , some type of validation, or simply love, the bottom line is that the world is a better place because of people like Amin who make it their quest to help those most in need.
The Strengths of Humanity
It’s surprising for many to visit this sort of charity event and see nothing but smiles. Human beings, when pushed to homelessness, often find inner reserves of perseverance, bravery, and hope, but above all there is perspective and humor. Perspective tells us that as bad as things may get, tomorrow is another day, and humor lets us roll with the punches. A new pair of shoes isn’t all that the disabled man needs to get through the night, but it’s a start, and he shows tremendous gratitude for the gift: gratitude which he might not be feeling if he couldn’t stop and laugh now and then and if he didn’t have the perspective to look at his situation in a broader perspective.