Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Good Deed

By now, many of us know the story of NYC police office Lawrence DePrimo  who upon meeting a homeless man without shoes and who's feet were freezing, went out and bought this man a pair of boots. Chances are that no one would have known of this kind deed had it not been for the picture which has been plastered in the newspapers. Questions have been raised as to whether the man was really homeless and  where are the boots he had been given since he has been seen barefooted about the city. Whether the police officer had been played or not by the man who was barefooted is also being asked. My answer to those questions is so what? What if he had been duped?

Is the officer's deed any less kind or valuable if he indeed has been played by the man in the street? I don't know if the the officer was Christian or not, but what he did for that man was. This whole story says more about the police officer than it does about the homeless man. For the record, it seems that yes, the man is no longer wearing his boots but not because he sold them for drugs or booze but because he hid them. Why? Because they were valuable and his life could have been in danger had someone tried to steal them. That's the reality of life in the street.

What  DePrimo did and the manner in which he did it should be a lesson learned for all of us. Not only did his act of kindness sought to relieve the suffering of a man he didn't know, but it is obvious by now that it was not a publicity stunt and the officer had no idea his picture had been taken. He gave of himself quietly and without fanfare. DePrimo is a public servant as are politicians, but you would be hard pressed to find a pol working a soup kitchen or visiting a slum without the requisite cameras recording their every move for a photo op during an upcoming election. DePrimo did not plan on making himself or the homeless man the focus of the darling media.

 Yet, what if DePrimo had done his act of kindness only to find out later that the homeless man was not homeless and just a drug addict looking for money to buy his next fix, or just to buy a bottle? It would not matter one whit as to whether or not DePrimo's act seemed wasted. No deed to alleviate the suffering that we believe we see is a wasted deed. If the officer had been duped by the man, then the man would have to answer for his deception at some point in his life, not DePrimo.  In his eyes, he saw a suffering man and didn't ask whether he was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a thief or anything else as to why he was homeless and barefooted. He just accepted what he saw and had the means to help and he did. No questions.

Was DePrimo being naive when he didn't question the man about his motives or his present condition? It depends. Was Christ being naive when he KNEW man's motives and sinfulness and did His own good deed on the cross anyway? No good deed to our fellow human beings goes unnoticed by our loving Father, no matter who the recipient of that deed is.


  1. I've seen that picture of the police officer hunched in front of the homeless man, boots in hand. What a powerful image that was, the more so because it was obviously a quiet moment of one man reaching out to another. Stories like this are so encouraging aren't they? No matter how dire and bleak our times may seem, the True, Good, and Beautiful has not been extinguished!

  2. Indeed Tess. God speaks to us in a whisper most times and this officer spoke with his actions in the quiet of the night unseen. That would make a grand Christmas card :)

  3. My own custom is if someone comes up to me and asks for food, I take him to get something to eat. That way, if he's really hungry, he gets fed--but can't just cage money for drinks, smokes, or drugs.


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