i am guilty sometimes of forgetting about the true people behind the word homeless. i forget that each individual has their own set of circumstances, their own group of problems and their own unique personality and identity. at times i get caught up the larger picture of free housing debates, chronically homeless veterans, family homelessness crisis and other subjects, arguments and topics and forget about the single, individual standing on the street corner in downtown wilmington. i sometimes forget about the couple sleeping in the abandoned building on the west side, struggling to stay warm on cold nights and feeling exhausted in the mornings from another nite of surviving. i tend to forget about the young children at the sunday breakfast mission or the salvation army who for the time being are safe but whose future is still uncertain. i forget about their mothers who came to those places in order to protect their children from the hardships and cruelty of being homeless and sought the safety and security that lies behind the doors of those two organizations.
yes...i am guilty. i have my beliefs and opinions on the homeless. these were formed from working for a social service agency, a state agency and then ironically enough becoming homeless. i have my firm, but not unchangeable opinions of various homeless programs, housing programs and the homeless themselves. i have my own beliefs of what will work in reducing and virtually ending homelessness over the long term. but today....tonite....all those opinions and beliefs don't really matter to those men, women and children who at this moment are in a mission or shelter hoping and waiting for a way to restart their lives. it doesn't matter to the ones that are there for the temporary safety and comfort of those missions and shelters. the homeless people who are sleeping outside tonite...whether it be behind some bushes in a secluded area, in a park, an abandoned house or on a bus stop bench...could care less what i think, how i feel or what i believe.
i think it is important that we don't forget about the individuals. i'm sure you know one. it's almost impossible to live in today's america and not pass one on the way to work, see one in a downtown area, hear of one, read of one or just accidently have an encounter with one. it's important for us to take pause from all the stigmas, headlines, horror stories, feel good stories, budget and cost analysis and other articles to remember...these are human beings we are talking about and discussing as if they were dots on a graph or jane doe in a statistical report. regardless of how we feel about the homeless or the reasons behind homelessness, no matter how we feel about the core causes, we must not lose our willingness to help and our sense of compassion for the individual human being. with winter approaching the need for that compassion and sense of charity will be greater than ever. we must not lose sight of the knowledge that every homeless person needs us. every one that for the time being isn't capable or willing to help themselves needs us to be there for them when noone else is. every homeless child needs us to ensure that they will grow and become an important part of the next generation to lead america. every homeless mother deserves our help to make sure their children have the chance to have a home and have a normal, healthy and happy childhood. it's our duty as citizens of our community, our state and our country to help the individuals who are less fortunate than us. it is our moral responsibility to help the homeless men and women ...regardless of their circumstances and regardless of the causes and reasons. as individuals we should try to not be afraid to help. we should be brave enough to help. help is a choice and it's up to us to define it, but it should start with a less stigmatizing and more personal approach...for all our sakes..
it's time we get back to the basics as human beings: more compassion and less judgement. we must not lose sight of what compassion means. we cannot afford to forget the person...the spirit...and the potential that lies within each of the homeless. we can't forget the spirit that lies within each of us. quite often the two are the same.
you can't do it in 140 characters or 30 seconds. it takes alittle more time and alittle more effort. but the reward is far greater. help the homeless when you can....every time you can. you are all they have
see you around town