Murdering Hope – The Life of the Homeless, in America
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“The Question Mark of Cain”
I’m not exactly sure how this works
Grieving I Grieve You
Last time I looked it was me that lost
But it seems my loss
Has inconvenienced you
I am bewildered by how this is
Hating myself you hate me
My face, my body, my breath is abhorrent
You detest my stink
My being & the thought of me
I’m unsure of how again to be sure
And in my confusion you are certain
That I and everything that has to do with me
Isn’t worth a moment,
The fleck of paint on the caboose
Of the thought train in your mind
I should apologize…
(This is the state of the nation today 9/13/2010)
The continued plight of WE, the Homeless in America, is not just the problem of lodging or a decent living wage to afford affordable housing. The problem isn’t limited to the crushing need for health care and social services reform. The main problem of WE, the Homeless, is the stigma of homelessness. You see, the perception of WE, the Homeless isn’t tender like poverty stricken children or heartbreaking like women suffering with cancer, or devastating like the victims of war (not taking anything away from these very worthy causes in saying this).
But WE, the Homeless, suffer under the dark cloud of being inconvenient, ugly and in the way. WE, the Homeless, stand on street corners in tatters, selling papers and trinkets with scruffy beards, uncombed hair and dirty disgusting fingernails and OMG THE STINK! If you are lucky we only smell of B.O. and maybe faintly of urine. Scabby, dirty, vile beggars that intrude on your clean life and it’s all you can do to force down the bile in your throat at the sight of us. WE, the Homeless are the modern version of the lepers, soup lines & donations the Bethesda pool and shelters are the colonies, the Lo Debar/ Skid Row that we should be confined to. Forget that we were pilots and professionals, people who work two or three part time jobs and still try to raise our kids as best we can. Don’t let the facts influence your perception.
So when you see us on the corners you don’t feel too bad if you can’t wrestle the change from the ashtray in time before the light turns green. Or when charities ask for your time there are soccer games or sewing circles and other whatever somethings to get to. Why, when legislation can help curtail the relentless advance of unemployment (by giving substantial stimulus monies to help foster retraining programs and desperately needed infrastructure jobs), it is all too easy to vote no and turn thumbs down. So as the job market collapses & the housing market collapses and the ranks of the Homeless swell like a blood-engorged tick you can kick your feet up on your desk, glad that you didn’t add another dime to the national debt (though if our kids starve to death today tomorrow’s debt seems like a moot point). OK, I’ll take a breath now.
Dirty, unsexy lepers. Question, if you don’t do what you can to help the poor & middle class build a solid foundation for this country’s future, what will happen to America’s future? Let’s look back in history – How many societies have survived without major upheaval if the middle class evaporates and the poor get trampled into the mud? (…see America in the 1920’s and 30’s, The French Revolution, The Cuban Revolution, The Bolshevik Revolution etc…)
The recession of the Bush 41 presidency was a direct consequence of Reagan’s trickle down (VOODOO) economic policies. We didn’t learn from that, our most recent past, obviously given our present situation. Nothing trickles down if everything is sopped up with the sop of greed. People, if you kick out the rest of the house and expect the roof to ‘magic’ itself alight somehow we are fooling ourselves and courting disaster (again).
As a country in 2001 President George W Bush commissioned a report on how to end chronic homelessness in America from several of our country’s major cities. Great information was gathered and it would have been an amazing aid in helping to bring down the ranks of the homeless had this program been able to proceed (unfortunately the events of Sept 11, 2001 halted most of the progress in this area).
But the past is the past. Now we have the opportunity to infuse our job market with a work force that is ready, willing & able to work. (And statistically, the homeless & disenfranchised’s desire is to work instead of relying on even unemployment benefits or welfare.) But obstructionists have fought tooth & nail to defer any change in the status quo no matter what the lingering effect of homelessness does to us in its ranks.
The loss of self-esteem has seen a sharp increase in the rise of depression in our population. The Homeless have a higher stress level, just living in our situation, not counting the daily grind of looking for work, housing and suitable meals – especially if you have children to care for as well.
We, the Homeless are susceptible to higher incidences of staff infection, tooth decay, respiratory & viral infections due to our living situations…be it in a shelter, vehicle or tent.
Homelessness is draining emotionally, physically, mentally & spiritually.
And when you need to seek help in the social services system (a system put in place to help) the number of hoops one has to jump through (both necessary & extraneous) only aid in making a human being feel as inconsequential as the designated number assigned to us on the top of a mountain of forms.
We, the Homeless feel helpless, hopeless, unwanted & unloved. A feeling only reinforced by the way we are treated, the vicious and thoughtless way we are talked about and over and around and sadly, the way people look at you when you’re Homeless with a mix of disgust folded in with a type of pity that doesn’t bother with a hand out or lend a hand up.
We, the Homeless only ask to be treated one way – as living, loving, blessed brothers – we just want to, need to, demand to be treated as fellow human beings.
S. LaDon Ware ©2010