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homelessness and humanity

February 17, 2014

“Our limits can be gifts if we let them be.  They might show up like failure, season of life, fatigue, disability, grief, burn out.  They might show up like lack of talent, time, money, or space.  But the limits tell us important things about ourselves.  Limits help us draw lines for margin.  Limits pave the way for vulnerability.  Limits remind us to be human.  Limits force us to invent, create, make art.

Emily P. Freeman, Seven Little Ways to Live Art, companion guide to A Million Little Ways

A theme I find myself coming back to in my thoughts is our humanity.  It is inescapable.  Seeing homelessness all over my city is as painful as it is thought-provoking.  I realize that a few have chosen that life for whatever reason and actually make decent money panhandling, but is that what our world should look like?  Take a look around–liquor store on every corner populated by bumbling and disheveled loudmouthed hooligans who are beginning to resemble the rats they sleep with.  And that’s just the visible part of the iceberg.

Assuming that poor life choices that have spiraled out of control (i’m talking about you, drugs) is the culprit in all cases of homelessness may seem harsh and judgmental, but it is not so far off the target.  It’s because of the drugs.  And the mental illness.  And the poverty.  Who’s to say which came first?  Seeing adults who are not contributing to society makes me angry.  What gives them the right to mooch off of the hardworking and virile?  They are an eyesore.  They make social outings uncomfortable.  They are making our jobs harder.  If they refuse to take care of their own lives, whose responsibility are they?  The state?  shelters and regulations and jurisdictions and police officers that “bring em in” or “give a talking-to” only to see the scallywags come back a few days later.  Society?  community groups and soup kitchens and shelters and the kind-hearted who have a few extra bucks to spare, but what good is that actually doing?

These are people, not just a problem.  These souls are lost in a broken world where they have limited resources to healing–it is for the privileged few who realize they need help.  They may not know of the wondrous beauty of life just beyond their reach; they probably don’t care.  All they see is their addiction, their apathy to change, their hopelessness.  The only aspiration is getting the next fix or maybe surviving the winter.  Perhaps the real disease is in those of us who choose to ignore instead of help.  We are on the outside.  We are well.  We have resources and know that life can be beautiful and crazy and confusing and healthy.

I realize my viewpoint is a bit naive and I am not an expert (on anything yet lol!) so I want to spark a conversation: what is your city doing? (actually doing, not talking about doing or failing to do).  Is it even worth it?  How do you view the homeless population?  Do you care, do you even see the problem?  Does anyone else feel compelled to help or speak up?

thanks friends 🙂

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