Thought for today:
"When I was a boy, my mother took me to Manchester. As we walked out of the railway station an old tramp buttonholed her with a dirty outstretched palm to beg 'the price of a cup of tea.' Without a second thought, my mother smiled at the tramp, opened her purse and gave him two shillings; a goodly amount in those days and which she could then ill afford, having seven children of her own to feed. Although barely ten years old, I berated mum for her foolishness and said her two bob would be spent on beer and not tea. Her reply was, 'You're probably right, Billy, but if I stop giving to down and outs, the day will come when I harden my heart and refuse to give to someone who really needs it. Besides, there's many a gentleman to be found beneath old clothes.'
As Christmas approaches, please make it a point to give to one person who is down and out, whichever part of the country or world they come from. If we only knew their story, I am sure that we might understand their situation much better.The cruellest thing of all about life is its habit of sometimes kicking us when we are down and knocking the stuffing out of us so much that we both fall and rise a victim.
I recently read that millions of people in Great Britain are only one pay cheque away from not paying their rent or monthly mortgage and being made homeless due to their high debt level, yet they have not yet reached the stage of the down and out who has given up trying altogether. Strangely, when I read this, it didn't depress me; in fact it did the precise opposite, it heartened me how strong and resilient in the face of adversity people can be.
Overall, if people teach us anything, they teach us that tough times never last, but tough people do. They teach us that anyone who has not yet met adversity head on, knows not their own strength. There are many people in this world who have been hardened so much by adversity that while they often experience disappointment, they never give up hope or belief in themselves to eventually win through. You know, it's hard to beat a person who never gives up and it is totally impossible to keep down a person who maintains their self respect whatever the odds.
So give a thought this Christmas to those millions of ordinary people who are our next door neighbours. They may not have lost their home and regular lifestyles yet, yet keep on struggling in silence from day to day, in the hope that times will improve. Such ordinary folk are the true heroes during the country's time of austerity. They are the folk who pray; not just when it rains, but also when the sun shines.
During my early years as a Probation Officer in West Yorkshire before the children were born, for two Christmases I spent Christmas morning helping serve homeless people in a soup kitchen in Oldham. Even then in the early 70s, I was surprised to discover how many young women lived rough on our streets during the cold of winter. This was a mere six years after the television drama of 1966, 'Cathy Come Home' shocked the nation. One year later, I am proud to say that I was able to persuade my probation colleagues at the Huddersfield office to begin a 'Cathy Come Home Fund' to help any woman who found herself homeless. When I look back on these days, while I frequently stood alongside the great, I preferred to sit with the broken, as their experiences were the most uplifting and helped me understand my life, purpose and self much better.
As a token of your concern this Christmas, if you have not yet donated to a charitable cause, please give a few pounds to Shelter, the main charity in the country for the homeless person. If you are a dog lover and don't come across a charity box for Shelter and you would still like to contribute, then consider purchasing a copy of my book 'Tales of Bernard', all sale profits will go to Shelter. This is a book for 10 years to adulthood about a pack of stray pedigree hounds. It was initially read and praised by Christopher Timothy (the television actor who played the vet character, James Herriot) and can be purchased in e-book format from www.smashwords.com or in hard copy from amazon or www.lulu.com for the price of £5.49." William Forde: December 14th, 2015.