THE NEWSDESK: Honest man shows the best of humanity
3:11pm Monday 23rd September 2013 in News
HONEST: American homeless man Glen James handed in a backpack with $42,000 in cash and travellers' cheques in it
ANYONE who is cynical about human nature should read the story of American homeless man Glen James.
Boston man Mr James went to police and handed in a backpack with $42,000 in cash and travellers' cheques in it.
Mr James, a former Boston courthouse employee, said that he would not have kept "even a penny" of the money he had found in the backpack - even if he were desperate.
Police then tracked down the relieved and delighted owner.
That act in itself should be enough for us to realise the world is not full of con artists, dangerous thieves and scary places. It is mostly peopled with the genuinely good who want to do the best for others - and that can often be overlooked when we see the stories of those who do the opposite.
Then, there is the amazing generosity of people who have been touched by this story.
Donations of more than $110,000 (£67,000) have poured in from across the US for Mr James.
A complete stranger later started an online fund for Mr James after reading media reports about his honesty.
Ethan Whittington, 27, lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He said he was so overwhelmed by Mr James' honesty that he decided to start the fund.
"The fact that he's in the situation he is, being homeless, it blew my mind that he would do this,'' Mr Whittington told reporters..He said his idea of starting donations on a crowdfunding website for Mr James "caught on like wildfire ever since".
He added: "It's brought me a lot of hope. This isn't only about rewarding a great guy. I think it's a statement to everyone in America.
"If we come together and work toward one thing and work together, then we can make it happen."
Yes, we can. But how startling is it that ordinary people seem to be able to turn this man's life around quickly and effectively while the systems where he lives had failed to stop him becoming homeless and in need.
It's the same here in the UK, systems on which we used to be able to rely seem to be failing us.
And, here, that could well be because unbearable financial pressures are tearing them apart.
Clearly, among the majority of people there is the will to help others. And that is being far more effectively reflected outside of the established systems by charities and trusts like the Trussell Trust's foodbanks, than by gogovernment.
So, then, let's ask this question: what is the point of government if not to help those who need it?
Send in the clown – or you could just watch paint drying
AS clowns go, the Creepy Clown of Northampton has some catching up to do. He doesn’t juggle, he doesn’t ride a unicycle, there is no exploding car.
He just stands there. With some balloons. Or a teddy bear. Waving. Just creeping everyone out who has ever seen Stephen King’s It and taken it to heart.
But this is no Pennywise alien clown-spider, luring his victims back to a cave to be wrapped in barely-disguised clingfilm until John Boy Walton discovers them and rescues those which have not been partially digested.
No, he just stands there.
Not menacing, really, just the sort of faintly disturbing sight you’d rather not have imprinted on your retinas.
As social media phenomena go, I’d rather watch the baby biting his brother’s finger.
The clown had not been unmasked by the time I wrote this column, but it is only a matter of time isn’t it?
He told the media his antics were “just harmless fun”.
“I just wanted to amuse people. Most people enjoy being a bit freaked out and then they can laugh about it afterwards. It’s like watching a horror movie. When people get scared, they usually start laughing,” he said.
Well, he has 130,000 ‘fans’ for his Facebook page. It’s amazing what boredom can do to people, what they’ll click they like on the net.
The clown has vowed to keep popping up in “for as long as people are interested”. I suspect that interest will wane pretty quickly. And the clicks will move on to the next YouTube video.
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