Hard to Understand until you’ve been – Homeless #homeless #society


The Dilemma: Homelessness

Most of us have encountered the homeless from time to time:

There is Ed, the guy who stands on the median where you turn left everyday to go to work. His worn out cardboard sign says “Will work for money. God Bless.”

What you don’t know is how many homeless vie for that spot on the median. Ed comes out as early as 5 am because he can make $100 an hour (at least during the rush hours). Where I lived, these folks (in the prime time spots) were making $2000 each month.

Then there’s Sylvia who meanders around a strip mall with a withered look to match her sign that says “anything will help.”

I was taught years ago not to give money to a homeless person because they could go out and buy drugs or alcohol. So someone who sees Sylvia goes to a fast food place and get her a meal.  Sylvia, when no one appears to be looking, throws the meals away. Over the years all the people I have given food to have gratefully eaten it. I always ask the person what they would like before I buy it.

Marissa sat in front of McDs in the pouring rain with her baby. Three women in passing asked if she needed help. “I have nowhere to stay.” The women while eating their meal inside called a local hotel and arranged for Marissa to stay in the hotel for several nights. Marissa shares a 3 bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and her three children; each month she tries to line up several nights stay at a hotel just to “get away in someplace nice.”

All three of these people share something in common – they all would something better than they presently have. They deal with their dilemma by appealing to society.

Ed wants to earn money to pay the bills for himself and perhaps family.

Sylvie is also trying to get food, money, clothing. What if Sylvie would have liked a vegan sandwich?

Marissa has an apartment. Is she hoping/dreaming of a nicer lifestyle?

Is that wrong? How would you deal with not having food, money, or a place that you enjoy living in?

Maslow shows that the homeless of our world are living in the bottom rung. This is (at times) below where the poor of our world live.

hierarchy

Why I am going to write a series of articles:

I became friends with a poet because of a poem I wrote about being homeless. As a homeless person, he was angered by my passionate viewpoint stating that “you cannot  write unless you can understand.”

I do understand: I have been homeless three times. Twice in my youth and once much more recently. You never would have known it (I never held a sign around my neck) and I had a car that I lived in. This last time I possessed nothing except two children and generosity from a number people who did not know me (before).

I understand the heart of the homeless;  much of my life has been spent in serving these people. Many of these folks don’t carry a sign but are lost. They are a people who have no place to go and all of society’s “welcome signs” are turned off. They are often busy helping one of their own or others.

 Image was created from other similar renditions of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and breaks down the 5 levels to very simple terms. © L. Moon 2014

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7 thoughts on “Hard to Understand until you’ve been – Homeless #homeless #society

  1. I’ve been at the raw end of things myself, never having dreamed I’d find myself there. If now my gut says help someone and I can, I do. I don’t judge them or ask them to justify their actions. As we do unto others, we do unto ourselves. That will never change for interconnectedness is the pattern of life. A good discussion to have, my dear. Thanks for the post.

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  2. My heart grieves for the homeless, especially during times of extreme cold and heat. There are many who are homeless because of circumstances over which they have no control. What I can’t understand, however, is why so many have simply dropped out of life and choose to be homeless so they can be free of responsbility and obligations. As an old police reporter, I have interviewed many of them. A lot are well educated. Many are former executives. But they are afraid of life and running away from it and live the most miserable life of all.

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    • I have met several who are actually pretty well off and I have met folks that have never had two nickles to rub together. My simple answer was because life/ society disappointed and if you could dig deeper I think because society failed them.

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  3. I actually keep $10-20 in cash on me for that reason. If someone comes up to me asking for money (typically at the gas stations), it doesn’t really matter WHY. What matters is that they probably DO need it.

    It’s simply impossible to help out every homeless person I see. There’s 3-4 of them holding signs at some of the intersections. What I hate is when they bring their kids. Maybe I’m being selfish, but I don’t think it’s right for a parent to teach their child that the best way to earn money is to beg for it.

    Many of them here go to the public libraries during the day. It’s nice that there’s a place for them to go to get out of the heat, which is the real killer here — it rarely gets below freezing.

    I spent a week living out of my car once until I found a less than ideal place to live. It’s tough when the people you care about don’t care enough to make sure your basic needs are met. It’s hard to deal with life when family members tell you that you can’t live with them — despite not having anywhere else to go.

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  4. My wife and I ran into a gentleman a few weeks back that has survived both the cold and snow, I gave him what I had left….his goal was simple: make it to the nearest Mcdonald’s for a meal.
    I try to at least buy a meal, drink, or even a sandwich to help somebody along.
    I don’t have the answers, but I do have empathy, and compassion.
    Great Blog, Great posting that hit home.

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