What We Ignore in America

Imagine yourself having to live on the street, sleeping on cold concrete with nothing for warmth or protection. You wonder where your next meal will come from. You have to constantly watch what little you have in order to make sure no one takes it when you aren’t looking. Think about your town installing barriers and spikes, so that you can’t sleep in your usual spot, or being turned away from a shelter because it’s already full. Meanwhile, we are in our cozy houses, complaining about it not being warm enough. So, we simply go and turn the heat up.

I remember being part of a homeless drive and handing out needed items to them. It was really cold that day, and I was complaining about how cold it was. Then I realized that a lot of the people we were helping would be out there at night. I have never felt like a bigger jerk in my life than that day. Have we become that ignorant? Are we that forgetful or do we just want to bury our heads in the sand so we don’t have to think about it?

I learned a lot that day, mostly by listening, and some by talking. Even though they had little to nothing, they were all generous and not one of them was selfish or greedy. They took what they needed, and needed what they took. We tried to offer them extra to make sure that nothing went to waste, but usually they politely declined, and said give it to someone else who needed it. I walked in to this expecting greed and chaos, only to find politeness and love. Why can’t we all show them the same politeness and love in return?

The amount of garbage and clothing we throw away is appalling. We take it for granted, and toss it away like we are royalty. Someone, somewhere, would gladly take it off your hands. We are all human beings. Until we can get away from the idea that being like this puts us above those sleeping on the streets and under bridges, we can’t change. We can and should change. Instead of tossing these folks to the side, or trying to force them out of our community, we should be trying to help and uplift them. They are not all drunks or gamblers. They are veterans whose house was foreclosed on while they were overseas. They are parents who lost their job to another company or a robot. They are teens who were kicked out of their home because of their orientation. Why should they have to be subjected to this while we turn a blind eye?

There are towns and communities who have taken the initiative to drive the homeless out by laying down spikes in the concrete, so that the homeless can’t set up there. There are also decent human beings who are finding ways to either destroy the spikes or render them useless. Putting things like these spikes down are cruel and inhumane. Instead of helping them, why are we trying to force them somewhere else, and make it someone else’s problem?

How do we fix this problem? Obviously, most of us are barely getting by. Is there a direct answer to this? Me myself, I wish I had one. I do believe that it starts with all of us. Not just me, not just you. People as a whole helping each other. There are plenty of worthy groups out there to join and help. Some feed, some clothe, and some shelter among other things. Please consider joining one of these groups. Even if you can’t donate money, try to donate your time.

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