I was fortunate to read a powerful article on homeless people and how they are perceived by society. It was called: “The homeless use the bathroom too … REALLY???” and the comments following the post were even more thought provoking.
It made me wonder. A lot. About perception and the ease with which we can look the other way. The article gave me some interesting questions. Like: when we see a homeless person in dirty clothing, knowing they have not bathed in a while or combed their hair, what thoughts go through our mind? Do we think about where they are living, how they eat, where they go to relieve themselves? Do we pause to remember that a homeless male or female adult was once someone’s beautiful clean baby boy or baby girl? Would we be brave enough to have a conversation with them to find out their story?
I have learnt that life happens … to the best of us … whether we want it too or not. A successful executive can lose their job and by extension their home, their family, their self-respect, their desire to live. As happened in Haiti, you could live in a country devastated by an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster which resulted in you losing everything you owned and having to live in a tent. You could find it hard to meet your monthly rent payments, and after being evicted find yourself living out of your car (if you have one). The list is sobering.
I do not believe that anyone would consciously decide to be homeless (not unless there was something so traumatic going on at ‘home’ they would chose to be somewhere else). And yes, there are those addicted to drugs and alcohol who refuse any help offered, but how do we know ‘who is who’ when we see a homeless person standing or lying on the side of the street?
When writing this note, I also came across an alternative but just as interesting perspective from the Mustard Seed Budget blog entitled: Open your eyes. See need. The author had strong views which spoke to giving to the homeless vs. others in need – see the paragraph below:
“Personally, I don’t give to the homeless. I give to the divorced mother of five with the deadbeat husband. I give to the missionary just returned off the field trying to make ends meet. There’s nothing wrong with giving to the homeless, but my resources are limited, so I want to give them where they won’t go to alcohol. There are some formerly homeless people in our church who need food, and I always make it a point to offer them whenever I can.” Click here to read more
Instead of just seeing what we refer to in Barbados as a ‘vagrant’ and offering them the spare change from my purse if I have any, maybe I should look harder so that I can see another human being who requires the gift of compassion. But why wait until someone is ‘homeless’? There are many people in homes with roofs over their heads who are in need all around me; I just have to open my eyes and see.
Let’s go out and make the world a better place. We can offer some small measure of hope to someone who sees no hope … one person at a time; it can be done.