who are the homeless? what caused them to be homeless? why can't they bring themselves out of being homeless? how many homeless people are there in my city? why do we have women, children and disabled people homeless on our streets? do the homeless have friends, relatives or loved ones that they are in contact with? what will it take and what can i do to help the homeless in my city? these are not academic questions. these are questions that cut right to core of homelessness and the answer we have all been looking for but fail to recognize. i think that answer is really quite simple. it may not be easy for us as individuals, but it is simple. love, compassion, and the true willingness to end homelessness has always been the answer. our willingness to abandon our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children to homelessness, the streets and all that come with it have always been the cause. every homeless person in america has or had family at some point. they all have or have had someone who professes to love and care about them. yet those very same people are the ones who were willing to give up on them and allow the issues they were and are facing overwhelm and consume them. we have become willing to let those we love to live in homelessness, on the street, in missions or shelters or some other environment. we have surrendered our definition of love and what it means to care for someone and allowed it to be replaced by conditional love, which is in reality, not love at all. love, sacrifice, acceptance, understanding, the will to help and devotion have all taken a back seat to convenience and the acceptance of us all to let our loved ones suffer.
there is a difference between what someone says and what they actually mean or what they are actually thinking when they make a statement about a particular issue. so it is with homelessness when we speak of the men, women and children experiencing it. it's also true about our efforts to reduce or end it. i don't think there has been any other segment or group of people in our society that has gone thru the ordeals, suffering and abandonment that our homeless have. no other group of people have been tossed aside so easily and explained away as our homeless. no other group of people have been so stigmatized, stereotyped and pushed into the shadows as the men and women experiencing homelessness. many advocates and government agencies state that we should not criminalize, discriminate or refuse to recognize the homeless. the homeless ask for respect, dignity and equality under the law and under the simple principles of opportunity that this nation has guaranteed to offer us all. noone should be denied housing, refused a job, prevented from resting or sleeping safely, refused service in a resteraunt or prevented from eating in public....noone. the law decided years ago that america is a free country and should be void of discrimination, prejudice or any other sort of bias. yet the homeless experience this daily with no repercussion or protection from that same principle of law. america should not be a country and our city should not be a city that allows and welcomes most but excludes others. we should not forget that our country is based on the very simple concept of equality and freedom. yes, this includes the homeless. we can no longer let this concept be elusive and used only when convenient. we should no longer fail to realize that creating a more perfect country and more perfect city means being committed to all our citizens. the concept of improving a city cannot be realized until that city considers everyone as part of the city and community. the idea of revitalizing a city cannot come to its fruition until the community becomes committed to all the members and it becomes a common effort to bring our homeless out of exile and reintegrated back into our society, our city and yes back into our families and our hearts. without doing that, the dream of being a healthy and prospering city and a strong country remains just that....a dream...an empty dream devoid of the very things that it should be built around.
the homeless are a difficult issue to deal with. the answer to ending it is not. it begins and ends with each one of us. it ends with regaining the love and compassion not just for our fellow human beings, but for our own family. if we cannot recognize this one basic fact, we will continue to fail in our efforts in the fight against homelessness. no amount of money or resources can replace these powerful ingredients. we will continue not only to lose our community, our city and our country, but we will continue to lose ourselves until we admit these very simple facts and accept the fact that we are the problem.
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