Regardless of our station in life, it’s important to remember that we’re all just human beings trying to get along in the world.
This concept was brought into sharp focus recently for Jackson, Tennessee, resident Elizabeth McClain. Elizabeth and her friend Patti Walker were on their lunch break when they spotted a scene that made them pause and reflect. There, by the side of a busy interstate on-ramp, was a deputy sheriff sharing lunch with a homeless man.
William Haley is a deputy with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Normally Deputy Haley works as a school resource officer at Jackson Careers and Technology, but that day he was on patrol fulfilling his deputy duties. A former United States Marine, Deputy Haley says his training and innate sense of what’s right lead him to perform an act of kindness that day.
“That’s something I do if I see someone in need and I’m able to help,” he said. “I do it if I’m working, and I’ve done it a few times when I wasn’t working. That’s just what I think we ought to do when we can … be kind and show kindness to one another however we can. It just so happened this time someone took a picture and shared it on Facebook.”
Elizabeth did indeed snap a picture of the deputy lunching with the homeless man, writing a heartfelt post on social media that urges people not to believe the negative news we hear about the police force and remember the good things they do behind-the-scenes each and every day.
Deputy Haley says that as soon as he spotted the man that day, he knew he’d try to help him.
“I’d seen the gentleman sitting by the side of the road a couple times throughout the morning, and I decided if he was still there when I got lunch, I’d pick him up lunch, too, and bring it to him,” Haley said. He picked up two cheeseburger meals at McDonald’s and brought them to the hungry stranger, asking if he’d had lunch yet.
“So I asked if he’d have lunch with me, and he said ‘yeah.’ We sat down right there and talked about life, the military, where he’d been, where he was going. It was a good experience for me, and hopefully, for him, too.”
Yet for Deputy Haley, this good deed was more than just “all in a day’s work;” it was also about treating others as we wish to be treated.
“It would’ve been OK for me to give him some food and driven off, but how long do you think it had been since someone sat down with him, shook his hand, prayed over a meal with him and asked him how he was doing? And think about how many days in a row it’s been where it’s been cold and rainy around here,” Haley said. “I know if that were me out there, and it had been a while for me, I’d appreciate it.”
Deputy Haley says that serving the community is a concept that is near and dear to his heart, whether serving means protecting people from harm or simply buying a hungry stranger something to eat. “That was me being kind,” Haley said. “If all of us could do it, it would make for a better county, state, country, and world.”
Elizabeth’s thoughts ran parallel to the deputy’s, and she wrapped up her Facebook post with this poignant reminder:
“Among all of the troubles in today’s world we all too often forget one important thing: that we are all just human. We are not black or white, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative we are only human. Everyone deserves love and respect. Everyone deserves to feel important. Our beliefs or opinions shouldn’t affect how we treat other people. We all need each other and it’s about time we pick ourselves up off [the] ground and start acting like it.”
Truer words have seldom been spoken. It’s important to remember that the police are on our side. Seeing a deputy spend his own money and time to help someone he doesn’t even know should encourage all of us to not only respect their dedication but to model their behavior whenever we see an opportunity to help.
Please share this message to put more acceptance, love, and respect out into the world.
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