“The homeless poor deserve what they have. They are lazy. They are not putting forth enough effort.”
I just wrote what our actions essentially communicate. Those are ugly statements that I once harbored until I was homeless myself. Those are ugly statements that unfortunately are not grounded in truth but grow in the soil of pride, fear, and self-righteousness. These statements are the ugly stereotypes that we project upon a population of men and women because of our one or two bad experiences with a person who is homeless.
Do we find it interesting, when we have had a bad experience with the opposite sex, it did not prevent us from getting married? Do we find it curious, when we saw the disrespect of children, it did not prevent us from having children of our own? It is a curious thing as humans, we use some stereotypes to justify our inaction and then bypass other stereotypes for the sake of our own desire for a realized vision.
We all possess a vision. A vision represents an idea. A vision is a desire to see what is in our heads becomes a tangible and life changing reality for ourselves and those around us. I would hazard a guess; no one has the vision to be homeless. There is something that is completely unnerving to sleep on a box, huddle in a gutted trailer, or seek refuge in a wooded area behind commercial areas. This situation is not always the result of an individual’s personal choices but can be the result of another’s choice as well
Life has this curious way of interrupting the usual orientation of our lives, putting us in the place of disorientation, and from that point, we are looking for a way out. The men in the above picture represent men I hear and talk to on a weekly basis who are either responsible for their homeless situation or victims of a decision that created their homelessness. But there is another aspect of their story. These strong homeless men are willing to acknowledge the disoriented reality of homelessness and pursue help which will lead them to a new reality.
This year or in the upcoming year, your life will be upended in some fashion and in the uncomfortable discomfort of your life you will seek out advocates and comforters. This is why we and the homeless are absolutely the same in our human experience. No one in their right mind would every say to an abused woman, “She got what she deserved.” Or say to the widower, “You are lazy. Get back in the game of life.” If we are willing to display compassion in those situations, can our level of compassion rise to the level of a homeless person’s disorientation?
Compassion tempers and soon eradicates the ugly, stereotypical statements we can and in some instances say about the homeless. Even now as I type this, there is a homeless man named “Glen” who has a college degree, he possesses experience to assist persons with prosthetics, and he is hammering away at job sites. Compassion works from the bowels of our bodies to identify and act with someone in the midst of their angst and disorientation. Compassion works until both persons stand in a new reality which is a new orientation and a new sense of grace.