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Photography: Common cruelty one can observe on the street

We must all toil daily for decency and compassion

After stopping to give the gentleman in this photo some assistance, Jenni and I listened to his story, as well-dressed “good people” walking by would hurl snarky jabs, laughs, and vicious insults at him. These were not isolated incidences.

He looked at me and said,

“Sometimes they spit on me. I don’t know why. I am so down low right now, you know what I mean … who spits on somebody like that?”

I continually ask myself, “what is my role in our culture of violence and cruel apathy?” The “spitting” happens at many levels and in many ways; there is a cycle and hierarchy of cruelty. As I wrote in Voice of Reason, “The nature of oppression can be very tame, and often goes by the false name of civility.” Experiences like these are the reasons I toil daily for decency and enlightenment.

True progress for humanity is anything that takes us closer to supporting one another.

True progress for humanity is anything that takes us closer to supporting one another. Small acts of kindness between you and the individuals around you are the germination that springs into being, something as mysterious as life itself, and what may in fact be humanity’s greatest accomplishment — compassion for others. Let us all strive to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful desire to ease the burdens of others. Every person is a precious gift, and we are all like little children who yearn for acceptance, safety, and unconditional love. Let us all reach out with a hope that we could each bring some degree of happiness to other human beings. Let each of us lead a revolution of support in the lives of others.

Bless all those who suffer, especially those who spat on this frail man — for their suffering (though they are unaware) is infinitely more heartbreaking and profound.

2012 International Finalist in Ron Howard and Canon's Project Imagination Competition — In 2012 this photo from my social photojournalism project with the homeless, “Faces of Poverty,” was picked by Ron Howard's team as a finalist in Ron and Canon's Project Imagin8ion. The photo was one of 30 selected in the mood category from over one hundred thousand total submissions.


Bryant McGill

Bryant McGill is a human potential thought leader, international bestselling author, activist, and social entrepreneur.

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Akiroq BrostMarci BartonRobert WallsbayaJackie Wilushewski Recent comment authors
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Marci Barton

This is why I am someone who stops and talks to people. Sometimes I get to take their photo, but even as a photographer I feel it’s more important to just listen.

Robert Walls

Amazing Bryant so amazing 👑🙏😍

baya elbey

it’ s so human what you do helping people and give them hope you are so kind and humble god keep you safe

Jackie Wilushewski

This “topic” is near and dear to my heart. I grew up next to a Women & Family Shelter and a Men’s Homeless Shelter. My walking path to work is past several homeless people, groups and camps. The mistreatment and judgement upon this man and others who face/ or have faced similar situations is a sad thing. I agree as you said, “Bless all those who suffer, especially those who spat on this frail man — for their suffering (though they are unaware) is infinitely more heartbreaking…” I am feeling hope in my heart and happiness that you and Jenni crossed paths with this man; I can feel the change you have cultivated in his heart, yours, and anyone who saw this interaction, including those who this articles reaches as well. Thank you.

Akiroq Brost

This: I continually ask myself, “what is my role in our culture of violence and cruel apathy?” How many people never even realize this question exists! It pains me deeply, the apathy, indifference, and disregard for those in obvious crisis. This article hit very close to home. I encountered a man in the middle of the woods today while walking with my dog. Some hikers I had passed earlier had warned me to turn around, that there was a crazed man further on the path. They were angry and disgusted. They commented on how he was obviously up to no good. When I finally reached him, I saw that he was in obvious crisis. In the middle of winter, he was only dressed in a muscle shirt and pants and his belongings were strewn in a circle around him. He was sitting on the ground cradling his knees, rocking and loudly arguing with himself. I tried to stop and help him. But he was not responsive. What he was saying was not rational. I didn’t know what I could do for him, so I called the paramedics. I waited for a long time for them to come. They had a hard time finding us so I had to move to a clearing so they could see me. The police helicopter finally located me and eventually, a solo police officer showed up(they had split up to comb the area). She wanted to try and help the man right away. I led her back to the spot where the man had been. He was gone. His things were still there. We could hear him ranting to himself in the forest (thankfully we heard him). He had moved deeper into the woods. After a lot of difficulty, we finally found him. He was setting up a tent, in the middle of the woods, in the middle of winter. Had I not stopped, had I not called, had he set up the tent and used it, he would not have survived. I was so grateful today that I was there. I was so grateful that police and paramedic responders were so gentle and compassionate with him. My wish is that people would put aside their judgment, that they treat each person as an individual. That they always remember the human beneath. I find it tragic that people focus more on convenience and having things just so than another soul. Like you, I so hope to impact change. You have both have been a tremendous inspiration in my life. I would not have the courage to do everything I do, to be as I am, if not for your encouragement. Thank you. @bryantmcgill @jennimcgill

Marci Barton

Thank you for saving this man, I too try to discover more about people but I know from personal experience that mental health issues can cause a person to no longer be in touch with our reality. Getting professional help was wise and it sounds like these responders were trained how to empatheticly handle him.

Akiroq Brost

Yes, I was not equipped or prepared to deal with him alone out there. I definitely needed help to help him. Yes, I was very relieved to see that level of compassion and professionalism. That has not always been my experience, so it was quite refreshing. I am thankful everything played out the way it did. Untreated mental health issues among the homeless and incarcerated are a true tragedy. We can’t blame those that don’t know, that they don’t know.

Dianna Weaver
Dianna Weaver

Its in all of us to help another and in all of us to hurt another. When I feel beat down by the world and “others” it can happen to me repeatedly, feeling relentlessly ganged up on without any ease in sight. It is then that I pray for strength, for courage, for help. Grateful to know there is more and it will come if I ask the power I cannot explain, cannot see to come to my aid. One person is all it takes. One voice of inspiration, of genuine kindness and love, of giving of themselves to me without motives. I intentionally seek it. It heals the beating. It provides hope and it alters my attitude. I want to be more like the angels I’ve been blessed with over the years. I would feel it a privilege to be used by God in that way. I want to give more of myself to people who I’ve been like in life and bless them as I’ve been blessed. That man is an example of what happens to all of us from different perspectives on the daily, actual spitting or hurtful words, angry looks, the only difference is – he needs consistency from all of us to help him rise above his circumstance – and have the peace he more than deserves in this life. I wonder if his insides are more at peace than what we perceive based on his outsides though? I mean… I’ve looked the part, acted the part and been fallen apart inside most of my life. Or maybe he has been there. Nobody starts out small and out of view of the world. We start out celebrated and adored – most of us anyways. My heart cannot handle thinking about the other possibilities. The world we live in has been ugly – sometimes unfathomably ugly. The work you do – impacting the thought processes of those who could help to change that reality – is quite beautiful. Glad I came to watch vids here today. I want to see good triumph over evil.

Kim Bellanca

Dear Bryant McGill: You/Jenni & The Gentlemen-who happened to be homeless): Were meant to cross paths, because you showed him that there’s still good people in the world(you & Jenni) stopped to help & to the ones that would hurl snarky jabs/laughs/& vicious insults-will have to answer to the man above(unless they change their ways)and by watching you & Jenni-that’s a (+) step in the right direction! Blessings, Kim…