Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Truth Is

It maybe that just because of how I’ve spent the last half year of my life, but I’ve noticed an increase of the topic of homelessness in the media. By media I mean sitcoms, news programs, newspapers, magazines, blogs, everything. It seems like suddenly the topic of homelessness is everywhere.

A lot of the cities I’ve been to have made “plans” to end homelessness. That’s a tall order that, frankly, I believe to be impossible or at least as improbable as ending terrorism and war in general. Let’s face it, it’s always been there and it will always be there.


Like war and terrorism, homelessness and poverty are as old as civilization. As long as people have brains of their own and use them, there will be some people who financially excel in life and, as the law of opposites tells us, there will be people who are financially impaired. Some people by pure bad luck and some people, believe it or not, by choice. Yes, there are people in the world who are happier without many of the comforts we tend to take for granted. And the crazy thing is, they get by just fine. There are people I’ve heard of and some I’ve met that live completely “off the land”. They have a camp hidden in the woods somewhere, they plant food, fish, and hunt, possibly illegally, it’s none of my business, and honestly, who are they hurting?

People like this make us, as a society, nervous because they live in a way that seems completely foreign to the vast majority of us, and because of one bad apple spoiling the bunch, we often have flashbacks of Ted Kaczynski, “The Unabomber”.

And so laws are passed making poverty illegal. Cities try to hide their “black sheep” in the back alleys or completely push them out with police “escorts” that incidentally, feel a lot more like being threatened and bullied. And why? From my experience a major reason is tourism. So many cities are trying to make themselves look totally prosperous on the outside. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to have a clean city, but kicking people out instead of helping people out is a lot like the way I “cleaned” my room when I was just a wee lad; by pushing everything into the closet and under the bed so that my room would appear clean even though it was just as messy as when I started.

City councils across the country are making there plans to end all homelessness by whatever year, and in many cases, there’s little to no evidence of change for the better, or any real effort even being put into the decided solution.

The biggest thing that is being overlooked by these homeless ending mission statements is that you’re dealing with individuals. We all should know that every person is different. Every person is homeless for a different reason. Everyone has a different story, and therefore, everyone will have a different return to self-sufficiency. The best way to help the most people is one at a time. Every person needs different things, and every person will have a different way to get back.

I don’t want anyone to think that it’s wrong to try to end homelessness. That’s not the case at all, in fact just the opposite. I just feel that a more personal approach should be taken in trying to lessen the amount of homelessness there is.

In the world we live in, there absolutely will always be homelessness and poverty, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't help those in need. Most people who experience homelessness get back on their feet in under a year. It’s an unending battle, but a fight we must fight. Hopefully it will be fought with sympathy, love and relentlessness.

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