“A cynic is a man who
knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
You may think that homeless folks have nothing to be thankful for but that assumption is as incorrect as believing all homeless people are the same. Recently I posted on my Facebook page an article I found about the Joplin tornado victims who, although are now homeless, still found blessings to be thankful for. This is only the beginning of the season and many people will become homeless due to tornadoes or floods. Add to this the thousands waiting for their unemployment benefits to end and a tidal wave of poverty is on its way.
Why wait for a natural disaster though, to bless other people with your time or even spare change? To most, the ever prevalent stereotypes of a “dirty bum” prevents seeing the less fortunate as human beings and let’s face it; it is very difficult to think in terms of compassion when you see someone urinating in public or obviously hasn’t bathed in a long while. The truth is that this stereotype is a small percentage of the homelessness that is steadily growing among young people, families, the disabled and the elderly.
Many homeless people work, some have two jobs and yet it isn’t enough to get by. I know because I once had two jobs and it wasn’t enough to pay for the childcare that cost more than my rent plus utilities, car insurance, gas, food, kid expenses and the list goes on. Even though we are homeless, I still consider myself to have blessings; like the strangers who come forward to offer help when I least expect it or the handful of friends who stay in touch regardless of my income or the car I drive (or living situation) and the fact that I live in a country that hasn’t been devastated by constant war, famine and disease.
I’m not the only one out here that thinks this way. Take my friend RD for instance. Some of you may have seen her story on InvisiblePeople.tv or have visited her blog, www.lostawareness.com. Here’s a video of her: http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/2011/01/rd-homeless-los-angeles-140-conference/. RD has housing now but could use a little help in replacing a blood pressure monitor. You can find details on the monitor at http://lostawareness.blogspot.com/2011/05/thank-yous-and-panhandling.html?spref=fb. With everything RD has been through, she keeps a positive attitude and counts her blessings daily but her story is far from over. In addition to keeping her housing, she has to keep her health up as well. We may not have much but we do have something in common; that human bond that links us all together regardless of where we came from.
Now let’s get real for a minute here. There are some homeless people that need to address the issues that led to their homelessness especially if addiction and mental issues are involved. Facing up to your self is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but you must do it if you ever hope to get back on your feet. Denying you have a problem and making excuses for not managing your condition only aggravates a hard life that eventually will kill you. On top of that, this kind of behavior alienates you from those who are sincerely trying to get you off the street but the hard lesson of life is this; nobody owes you a living and you don’t have the right to live off the hard work of other people. You can play the “pity me” game all you want but eventually people get wise and they’ll get tired of it. Why add to the stereotype that doesn’t need to be out there?
Because there are still so many questions about homelessness, I have decided to post detailed blogs about the myths of homelessness, the problem with statistics, the politics behind large scale poverty, community responsibility and stories that I got from the people I found living out of baseball parks, under blackberry bushes, out of their vehicles, in tent cities, on the waterfront and in the alleys most walk past without a second thought. It’s not going to be all doom and gloom either as there are stellar examples of community responses to the homelessness disaster. Sometimes the most heartfelt gestures of compassion I’ve ever seen came from individuals acting on their own without having to be asked to help. As always, the public is free to visit me at We Are Visible on Facebook. If anything, you may see for yourselves that we are a community to support each other through homelessness and those on the brink of becoming homeless. Everyone else is welcome too!
In closing, I’d like to leave you all with this video: Beth\’s story