I’m sure most of you reading this column whether on PATCO, SEPTA or your local coffee spot — hopefully — have read or seen the story about New York City police officer Lawrence Deprimo buying a homeless man a pair of shoes.

 

Officer Deprimo walks the beat in New York's Times Square, and it was a cold November evening when he came across a shoeless, homeless man sitting on the cold dirty pavement, feet exposed and blisters pronounced. Deprimo went into a nearby shoe store and purchased him a pair of boots. This was captured by someone's camera:?Deprimo coming to the rescue of a man who has absolutely nothing -- no home, no family to come home to, no money, no job, no health insurance, no warmth, no love, no shoes.

 

Across the country, there are thousands upon thousands of destitute men, women and children who aimlessly wander our streets, shivering (or sweating), starving, avoided by the rest of us and, in many cases, left to die in the streets. This is America, right? The land of opportunity, where everyone is equal and we take care of our fellow man? "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." It's basically a lot of bull. We are basically selfish, caring about our own needs, our own world and our own comforts. It's O.K. to do that, if you still reach out to your fellow man.

 

Sometimes I think about that Norman Rockwell print "Freedom from Want," with mom and dad serving dinner to all their happy children. Combine it with what Deprimo did. How about next time you see that homeless person on the street, instead of avoiding eye contact, why don't you stop ask if they need a cup of coffee, maybe a snack or a pair of socks or gloves? Strike up a conversation and simply ask what happened. I know we all have it tough and are consumed with our own problems, but when you take a step back to take a look from the outside, it could be a hell of a lot worse. I call it the selfish check. Pay a visit to Children's Hospital and see how these children have been dealt the blow of a devastating disease and go home and hug your children. Look at the homeless person in the street and simply just imagine sleeping out on the streets with no food or warmth on a wickedly cold January night.

 

Go on your computer and take a look at the picture of Deprimo bending down to help the homeless, shoeless man and ask yourself, "Am I selfish?" You might not like the answer.

— John Bolaris, one of Philly’s best-known news personalities, will appear every Monday. He’ll give advice on life, weather and any topic in between. So let’s start the dialogue. E-mail John at letters@metro.us.

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