Tough Questions, Real Answers
Why do decent homeless people make others feel uncomfortable?
By Jonathan McDaniel
“I’m sure they’re only found in big cities,” some of us might think when considering the homeless, “[homelessness] doesn’t pose a real problem for the rest of us.” Finally we conclude “surely the big cities have systems in place which can handle the poor and we shouldn’t pitch in and help ourselves, after all its being taken care of!” Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Rebutting these profound jumps in logic, I can prove homelessness affects many people hailing from all walks of life. From the formerly rich and powerful to those born into poverty and dysfunction. Many people have spent their entire lives being sheltered and sheltering others, not from the cold, hail or elements, but themselves and loved ones from seeing the very fact that others outside their circle are poor and needy. Homelessness is a multi-faceted issue and not solved immediately, no matter how many leftist politicians in Washington want to throw enormous amounts of money to artificially house people to seemingly reduce their numbers. The mindset of homelessness lives on. People with money know that helping the homeless is a never-ending battle. Here are some of the reasons that I believe people find the homeless to be a tough pill to swallow.
- The homeless are just like you and me
There is little separating us from the homeless in actuality, we are all people and equally susceptible to a stroke of bad luck. It would be much easier if there was something hideously different about homeless folks that would make them less sympathetic or relatable like having green blood or tentacles. Or perhaps something finite, differentiating and distinct about them that justifiably caused them to be 100% responsible for their own fate and undeserving of any help or support. Whether one feels sympathetic for them or not is up to that individual. What isn’t up in the air is whether or not we should help them. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 25:40-45: “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Why does Jesus say this instead of “ignore the homeless, they deserve it?” I think it’s because there is surprisingly little separating the businessman on his way to work and the homeless person he passes huddled in a blanket. And that it’s that thought of uncertainty which scares him, not his fellow hurting man.
- They don’t all have drug or alcohol problems
Most Homeless people turned to drugs and alcohol after they became homeless. According to thhi.org “While many homeless people do report having a substance abuse issue, most report that the addiction occurred AFTER they became homeless and was not the cause of their homelessness. Often times, people experiencing homelessness turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to dull the realities that come with living on the street. While it depends on the person, many people find that once they are off the street they no longer find that they need or desire to continue with their addiction.”
And if I’m being honest with myself, might I turn to drugs and alcohol if I’d hit rock bottom? Once again, the lines between law abiding citizens and those too depressed to function are surprisingly narrow. One who has never tried drugs or alcohol no doubt finds it easy to pass judgement, but they likely struggle with a different battle personally. Which brings me to my next point.
- Homeless people all have similar problems which are unique to them and them alone
Homeless people may have many things going for them but due to their lack of basic needs the other beneficial qualities they have never get shown. Referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the bottom of the pyramid includes the most people, given as it is the broadest part. Many homeless people would no doubt go on to the “self-actualization portion but for their lack of starting. In other words, many homeless people get their ducks out of order. They should be focused on meeting basic needs when they have already gone on to create relationships, a false sense of security with drugs and alcohol etc. Many place very little emphasis on worldly goods even to a point of extremes. Most average people have the bottom level of the pyramid met, (food, air, housing, clothing, etc.) so it’s very easy to mock and misunderstand someone who skipped the bottom part and perhaps is a master of a higher level of the pyramid who simply got their needs out of order. After all, “all I need is my ashtray…” —Jonathan