Whatever you do today, if you haven’t already, make sure you watch this video. All four minutes of it.
Meet Ronald Davis — a man from Chicago who fell on rough times a couple of years ago, and ended up homeless and living on the streets. A couple of weeks ago, an interview Davis did in 2012 went viral on Reddit, then got picked up by Gawker, then Huffington Post, and it continued to spread from there.
In the 4-minute clip, Davis talks about the trials and tribulations of living as a homeless man in Chicago, explaining how it’s hard for him to get a job without a phone, but then it’s also hard to get a phone without a job, which truly puts things in perspective and gives you (the viewer) something to think about.
“I start out my mornings about six o’clock… It’s really humiliating to be shaking a cup 24 hours a day, and people just look at you’re like some kind of little bum… I’ve had people walk past me and say, ‘Get a job bum!’ I’m not a bum. I’m a human being,” he said, fighting back tears.
He continued, “At the end of the day, when people go home, and everybody gets on the metro train, I just feel so bad that I can’t be going home… It’s real emotional because I’m really trying to get myself together and get off this street… You just lose all humility when you’re shaking a cup begging.”
“You can look at a person and tell if they’re giving you respect or not. A lot of people look at you like you’re a piece of crumb … I had one guy walk past me, and he talked about me so bad, and I just looked at him, and I said ‘God bless you sir.’ He walked past me, went down the street and came right back, and he said, ‘You know what man? I had a bad day, I’m sorry for even [talking about you] like that, because I know you’re a human being. He said, ‘Would you accept my apology?’ I said ‘Apology accepted.’ He went in his pocket and gave me 30 bucks and said, ‘Go get you a room and get you something to eat. No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human first. And just ’cause I’m down on my luck don’t give nobody no excuse to call me no bum. Because I’m not.“
Ronald Davis’ heartbreaking interview reportedly inspired a PBS series on social policy called “Big Questions,” which according to PBS is a “Part documentary, part talk-show” that “draws you into some major issues facing the world today, and many episodes offer piece-meal solutions.”
After the interview went viral on Reddit last month, the users on the Internet community came together and set up a fund for Davis, which has so far raised close to $8,000 from over 300 donations, with more than 50 days left to raise more.
“God Bless you Mr Ronald Davis and thank you for courage and inspiration. You are a gift and more than a “human being”. You are a great man of strength and humility and your honesty and heart has awakened compassion for those less fortunate in the hearts of many. Thank you. I humbly salute you,” wrote one anonymous donor, who gave $1,000.
It just so happened that the day after the video went viral was “National Pay It Forward Day” (Apr 25), but one Redditor took it upon himself to go out and find Davis a day early.
23-year-old Manny Huismann, who goes by the name “EuroDucky” on Reddit, eventually tracked down Davis (pictured here to the right) and was able to personally deliver a care package to him of snack foods that included fruit, warm waffles and blueberry muffins, Arizona sweet tea, a bar of German chocolate and more.
From the Huffington Post:
Curious as to how Huismann knew Davis and was able to spot him in a crowd, Davis’ friend pressed the do-gooder for details, which Huismann said prompted Davis to tell the story of being filmed last year as part of an assignment from a media ethics course at DePaul University.
Huismann told Davis of the response his story was generating and told HuffPost, “We as a community wanted to let him know that he is human, and that we care.” Huismann said he didn’t linger with Davis and his friend after handing off the care package:
“After that I just left to continue to explore downtown with a feeling of — I don’t know how to describe it — just that there’s still good in the world out there.”
Most people avoid looking pan-handlers in the eye and ignore their presence, but hearing Ronald Davis’ story should make you wonder: “Am I being an asshole?” As one Redditor noted:
I am one of those people who avoids eye contact with pan-handlers and this video has made me realize what an asshole I am. If other people who pass by this guy daily see this he is surely going to get a lot more hello’s.
According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, there were more than 105,000 homeless people in Chicago in 2012, at least 12% more than the 94,000 who were homeless the year before.
Click Here if you would like to contribute to the fund to help Ronald Davis get back on his feet.
UPDATE: Apparently there are TWO separate funds set up to help Ronald Davis. The other one is here.