There’s been a lot of attention this week on a homeless man from Columbus, Ohio. You’ve probably seen video clips of him online by now or even caught his touching story on The Today Show. His name is Ted Williams and he’s been dubbed “The Man with the Golden Voice.”
You can watch his video that started it all here:
There’s no question that his story is powerful. Once a successful radio personality who ended up homeless and living on the streets all due to the blistering effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Fast forward to this week and a Columbus Dispatch reporter’s video of Ted panhandling goes viral across the internet landing Ted with an almost overnight spotlight, national opportunities and most of all… a second chance.
In the midst of watching the story of Ted unfold I couldn’t help but think of what it must have been like for Ted all those years on the corner before anyone listened to or recognized his voice of gold. Then he was just another homeless guy panhandling on the side of the road, wasn’t he? Thousands of people probably just drove past him. Most probably looked the other way (on purpose). Others certainly wouldn’t make eye contact. For those who did, did they reach into their pockets or car console for some spare change or did they just write him off as worthless, someone who would just blow that dollar on crack and beer? Some even thought, “Get a job.”
But now, everyone is cheering for Ted Williams.
What has changed?
Ted’s gifts were the same three weeks ago as they are today. He’s a man. A man with feelings and hope and challenges just like the rest of us but given a little national exposure we look past the wiry hair, the dingy clothes and the sign. Ted no longer is that bothersome homeless guy on the streets begging for a handout… he’s now the underdog given a new shot at life with millions of people around the world cheering him on.
Do you see the irony?
Had that reporter not come along Ted would still be standing there with his cardboard sign. People would still be driving by. Sure, some would stop but most wouldn’t.
My point is this. That guy who you see every day on the corner with a sign… what if he’s the next Ted Williams? What if you just drove past, letting his homelessness deafen you to the opportunity to hear his Golden Voice? What if you had the chance, like that reporter, to change his life for good?
You’ll never know if you keep driving by, will you?
I’m not saying that we need to try to help everyone, because we can’t… but we can help someone. And at the very least we can treat people with dignity and respect regardless of who they are or if they are standing in a board room or on a street corner.
Maybe the biggest lesson from Ted Williams isn’t about his Golden Voice but how through it, we can hear a reminder to practice The Golden Rule.
Oh… and before you go, spend a minute and a half watching this video and ask yourself the question… “What would you do?”