I’m taking a short departure from relentlessly promoting my online treasure hunt. Go to www.wrendo.com if you are curious about it or wish to play.
Today’s post will be about unlocking the box of assumptions we carry about the homeless.
Every person holds value and worth. Everyone. This is irrefutable. Don’t try to argue this with me. I will shame you deeply with compassionate logic and break down your irrational fallacies. The homeless issue in San Francisco has grown over the past few years and when I walk around I see some people turn a blind eye and treat these human beings with callousness and contempt. When we treat others like this we fail. We simply fail. I’m not saying that we must invite everyone into our lives. What I am saying is that everyone has a story and deserves dignity and respect. The homeless are not objects or concepts to be dealt with. They are human beings who are facing tough times. They are people who are trying their best to figure things out in a system that keeps them down. The following are 10 things you can do to make sure you treat the homeless like human beings.
1 – Look them in the eyes when you address them. You may not be able to give them money, but you can treat them with dignity.
2 – Offer a compassionate smile or a handshake. It’s ok. They aren’t going to up and follow you around all day and they don’t bite.
3 – Don’t assume they will buy drugs and liquor with any money you give them. Even if they do. This is their prerogative and not for us to judge. Just as it is our every day prerogative to fill our lives with the gunk we put into our bodies. Drugs and liquor aren’t the mitigating factor keeping these people down. It is a failed societal system that does. Remember, most drug and alcohol problems in society actually occur with so called “normal” everyday citizens who abuse them and cause harm to others.
4 – Buy them something to eat. If you really want to make sure they get food with the money they collect, then go buy them some food yourself. Ask them first if they have any dietary restrictions. We forget this sometimes and assume they will eat anything.
5 – Spare a moment to hear their story. Sometimes just taking the time to show you care is enough to make them feel like they are still part of society. Most have fascinating stories to tell and great wisdom to share.
6 – They have names. Ask them. They are not faceless demons lurking on the street trying to pickpocket you or steal your soul.
7 – Stop assuming they are a large drain on societal resources. Yes, technically they are a drain because of tax dollars allocated to welfare and homeless programs. However, they are a drain by proxy and not by choice. The system we have created to address the homeless situation has failed and does very little to help them be upwardly mobile. We are essentially responsible for the drain through an inefficient and bureaucratically laden system. Not them. Just remember that most people who can afford to eat out at fast food restaurants or even normal dining establishments are typically eating unhealthy foods that lead to congenital health problems which in turn put a large drain on societal resources in medical costs and subsidies. Let’s not even mention energy subsidies that are paid to large energy corporations or the farming subsidies that go towards the horrible food we eat everyday. The subsidy list is endless. Who’s a bigger drain on tax dollars? It’s probably you…by choice.
8 – Stop assuming they wish to stay where they are or are scammers. It is true there are a very small percentage of the homeless who are simply freeloaders and irresponsible citizens. And yes, some aren’t even homeless. However, the percentage is miniscule compared to the actual bona fide homeless trying to crawl out of their predicament. If we stop treating them as humans because of this assumption, then all we are doing is feeding into the irrational and fear based elitist argument that is so convenient to fall into. The bad ones are simply criminals and they are in all walks of life.
9 – Stop assuming they are uneducated people with no skills to contribute to society. Most of the homeless are people like you and I. People who possess many usefull skills, knowledge and wisdom. They are simply going through bad times and need a break. To put this into perspective. Most real estate agents don’t have anything further than a high school education (not picking on real estate agents). Most stock brokers could be replaced with some darts and a board and are no different than professional gamblers. Most politicians have no idea what they are talking about beyond the superficial talking points. Most celebrities are uneducated and maladjusted people. I could go on and on but hopefully you get the point.
10 – Always remember you could be homeless yourself one day. Everyone has the potentiality to fall on rough times. Shit happens. If you ever do, hope that those in better situations remember to follow these 10 simple rules of compassion.
– Compassionate Rabbit