HOMELESS – HOW WE CAN HELP ~ ISSUE 207 ~ APRIL 5, 2016
By Diane Gold
ARE WE HOMELESS?
Are we aware of what it is to be homeless? Probably only if we are homeless or if we work with people who are homeless.
Are we blind to suffering? Probably only if we are not suffering.
These suppositions have to do with how aware we are when we are living a situation but how unaware we become when we are not. Think of having a baby. It’s very painful. Do I remember the pain? No, I remember the joy. Or think of being sick when we are not.
Do I remember being sick? Depends upon how long ago I was sick. For me, it was just the other day, and it was the kind of sick where I could see life’s end. But, the last time I had an ache, a pain, a cold where I was totally clogged is but a small memory since it happened so long ago.
THE CONCEPT OF HOMELESSNESS
How I began to think of being homeless had to do with asking my step-niece, who works with homeless and housing as the administrator of community housing in Austin, to do an interview. What also got me thinking was a young feral cat I was feeding who arrived as if she had just gotten lost from her inside home with a human. I found her a new home and was able to trap her and give her to the seemingly willing family. Due to some error in nurturing, she ran away from that family and has to start all over again making her way not to starve.
My feral cat responsibility started a few months back when the cross-the-street neighbor who had been feeding 3 cats for, at least, 10-15 years, moved. I didn’t know about ferals and was told by a cat person that feral cats who have become dependent upon humans most of their lives would starve if not fed. So I started to feed them. Not until the young one who arrived, got trapped by me and brought to a seemingly willing family, and, subsequently, ran away, did the idea of homelessness really start to weigh on me.
The feral cat situation is difficult. Neighbors fear disease and late night cat fighting. But, how can we let the dependent ones starve?
HUMANS WHO ARE HOMELESS
This brings us to humans who are homeless. I was first introduced to people who lived outside when I went to the beach every morning to teach class. There were always the few same people under blankets when I arrived, who would be gone and in town by the time I was ready to leave.
Why are people homeless? Don’t we have plenty of money in this country to provide for everyone? This reminds me of the reaction of a virtual techie I had hired who was at a university in his country of birth, India. He did not know the great United States had homeless. Or that the statistic is around 600,000 people, 2/3 of whom live in shelters. That’s 200,000 outside homeless, including 50,000 who are veterans.
The hard righties say that everyone should work, and people who are homeless have no reason to be there. The hard lefties say that we should provide for those who are homeless, no matter why. In the middle, we can look at why people are homeless which may impact what we think is the answer.
Most homelessness revolves around the almighty dollar.
Most homeless people get to the street, bench or field by some event that puts them over the line, such as losing a job, domestic abuse, becoming too sick to work, losing a loved one who no longer provides.
We know there are homeless because of sexual abuse or because some have lost limbs, eyes, mental capacity or emotional balance in the United States military and could wait no more for veterans’ organizations to exhaust their waiting lists. The street is there, and it is filled with people.
Shockingly, there are some people who prefer homelessness to making money as someone’s or some corporation’s minimum wage slave.
I had a student who chose to live under the pier because he said it was cheaper than having an apartment on his construction helper wage. Others prefer the idea for ethical reasons where they object to making money by manipulating others through crafty marketing designs and can find no other work. These two examples put a burden on the rest of us, yes.
This is in the United States? YES. Is it our responsibility to help our sisters and brothers and their children who are homeless with our money and our time? YES.
Those of us who have homes are fortunate. Those of us who do not are not as fortunate.
I’m not faulting anyone for having a 20-room house or for being a maker of a money making life. Utilizing the self for financial gain is great. I’m only noticing homelessness and how far away it is from most of us who have homes. In turn, I am not faulting anyone for becoming homeless. For most, it is not a choice. Or, if it seemed revolutionarily glamorous at one time, people get stuck where they are.
I do think some of the makers in software design and writers of TV show plots can create some radical new housing scenario that serves the homeless as it serves the community. A great example of a creative group’s doing something is InfoExchange, a software company that won Google’s Impact Challenge in Australia. The company is building an app for homeless to connect them to all the shelter services on a nightly basis based on location.
No matter who we are, we don’t want to be homeless. As George Carlin used to say,
“I need a place to put my stuff.”
This very concept is why we see people walking around with shopping carts filled to the brim.
Whether we push carts that hold shiny new products we have just bought at a store or whether people who live outside are pushing them, we need a place to put our stuff.
Consider the good fortune of housing. May it teach us the patience to understand and help those who live on the street.
1) Be kind to a homeless person, and know s/he could be you.
2) If you are a creative, consider creating a better way to connect people with housing.
3) Connect with a project in your local community that helps homeless.
If you wish to share your story, leave it as a comment under an article at http://warriorsofweight.com/issues. or even better, write your own article and put it up on a free wordpress site (https://wordpress.com), or post it on a social media site. Share yourself.
If you need habit help, check out warriorsofweight.com/consulting.
Know that you can reach out to a fellow human, probably to the person right next to you. If that interaction works out poorly, do it again. It’s worth it, since most people are nice and want to connect with you.
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DIANE GOLD, PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, has been a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, has been a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying peaceful conflict resolution, habit replacement and has been certified in plant-based nutrition.
She believes we can never be too kind. She says,
“Aside from the fact that we should care for each other, both the ugly and the beautiful, how would we want to be treated if we were homeless?
“There was a movie about a rich person being relegated to living in the street. He had learned to be resourceful by the nature of having such large responsibilities, but he got to see a side of life that many of us, more fortunate, will never see.
“We don’t know why someone is homeless, and we are not better than someone who is homeless. Although we may own the land on which the homeless sleep, this property ownership doesn’t mean we are better or spiritually richer or more worthy.
“Let us be kind. Not only because it could happen to us. Let us be compassionate and understanding because we are human and we are our sister’s keeper.
“Let’s take overall good care of each other and ourselves – including loving ourselves and our fellow beings at all costs – because we are all always worth it.”
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK:
LOOK AT A HOMELESS PERSON, AND REALIZE S/HE IS SOMEONE’S SISTER, BROTHER, MOTHER, FATHER, DAUGHTER, SON.