We’re all human. When Green Renaissance filmmakers Michael and Justine found themselves walking along a busy street in Edinburgh, they saw a sign resting at the feet of a man sitting on the pavement outside a posh hotel. It simply read, ‘I am a human being.’  It stopped them dead in their tracks. Kneeling down to take a closer look, they struck up a conversation with Sparky. And what started as a quick chat, turned into a few hours together, while Sparky shared his story with them.

May we remember that every person, regardless of their situation, is a human being with dignity, with a name, a story, a family and a history – like all of us.

This film features Sparky and was filmed in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey visit Green Renaissance.

Questions for Reflection

What feelings/thoughts/questions surface for you in viewing Sparky’s story?

How does Sparky’s story move you?

We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.

*We are transitioning the format of our Grateful Changemakers series in an effort to deepen the ways in which we “celebrate programs and projects that serve as beacons of gratefulness.” Our film series partnership with Green Renaissance represents one such possibility. Stay tuned for more!

Video Transcript

A couple were walking past with their little daughter about the same age as mine. The daughter was asking, you know, “Why is that man sitting there, Mummy.” The mother explained, she said, “Well the man has nothing. He’s homeless, he doesn’t have a home.” Two-pounds-fifty, it was all the money she had. It was her pocket money, man. She was willing to put that in my hat. It broke my heart, it really did. She came over, and she was gonna put it in my hat, you know. I mean, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take it. I genuinely could not take it. It was just so heartwarming, it really was.

She just reminded me — sorry, I get a wee bit emotional — she reminded me of my own daughter a wee bit, you know. My happiest memory was the day my daughter was born. That was the most special day of my life, it really was. It’s life, you know, you’ve created it. It’s a part of you, you know. It’s just a miracle, really, when you think about it. 

It’s funny because at that time I thought, you know, people only cried in like movies and like soap operas and stuff when they were happy, I didn’t think that was a real thing. But yeah, genuinely, man, I mean, I cried, I really did, you know. It was just tears of pure joy, you know. I just didn’t even think that was a thing, man. But yeah, it was unbelievable. 

Like an angel — she had long, brown hair, hazel eyes. She was starting to grow these two little buck teeth…we used to take the mickey out of her about that. She was just the sweetest thing, man, she really was. She didn’t deserve what happened…

A drunk driver. A drunk driver hit the car that my sister’s boyfriend was driving. She never stood a chance. She was in the middle, in the back seat, and she just went right through the windshield. So she really didn’t stand much of a chance at all. She was dead on site. You know, it’s just so unfair, man, you know, so unfair.

And for a while I was so angry, I mean I really was. I fell into depression, I couldn’t find any more work, had to sell the car. You know and things kinda just kinda went downhill from there. I don’t think I’ve ever really bounced back from that to be honest. I couldn’t find any purpose, any reason, you know, just to keep on with my life.

When the light of your entire life, your entire reason for existing gets taken from you, man…to live a life without purpose, that’s not a life, that’s an existence, you know, and they’re miles apart, you know, they really are. And she was my purpose, she was my life, she was my light, you know. 

They have so many assumptions about people being on the streets, and most of them don’t really want to know. They don’t care, they’re not really interested. It’s not in their bubble, it’s not in their universe, you know…they don’t want it in their universe. So yeah, that needs to change, man, it really does.

And it’s not about money all the time, it really isn’t. Someone could come up and give you a cup of coffee or something, man. You know, that makes your day, it really does, you know. Even just somebody sitting and saying hello to you: “Hey, how are you doing?” That makes my day perfect, it really does, because you’re no longer invisible, you know. Somebody sees you. Don’t ignore us, you know, just say hello.

The other day I put, “I am a human being,” you know, just to sort of remind people because every now and again you get the feeling that they forget that, you know, strange as that sounds. It doesn’t matter what race, color, creed, religion we are, man, we’re all made of the same stuff, you know. We’re all made of stardust, man. 

Be understanding. Allow people into your own little universe, you know. Your own little bubble, you know. Don’t be afraid of new things that come into your zone. Experience life, you know. We’re only here for such a short time, man. Make the most of it. Every single day could be your last day. So, yeah, take the chances, man, you know, do the things that you wouldn’t normally do, you know. Make a fool of yourself, you know. Just live…because it is a beautiful world. If, just, people would remember that. 

Love, it sounds all mushy and whatever, but it’s there, you know, it’s real. It’s always there, you know, you just have to find it. You just have to discover where it’s hiding. All we need is love, man.

My daughter, I know that one day she’s going to be proud for me to be her dad, you know. I know that. One day.


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About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Green Renaissance, works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.

Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.

By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think.