Have you ever thought about homelessness in America? Or have you at least looked at them when you passed them on the street? If you haven’t, now is the time.
The statistics are staggering. Across the world, more than 100 million people are reported to be homeless. And of the top 25 homeless cities in the world, 11 are in the United States. A lot of institutions are actually studying homelessness in America because it truly is an epidemic that can best be solved hand-in-hand with the government. But as you know a single spark can start a fire and if we do our part, it will surely create a ripple.
But to address this problem, several questions need to be answered.
This problem begs the answer to the question: What led them to that state? How do people end up on the streets? There are several causes. The primary cause is that they lost their jobs and could not get a new one, because of either a physical or mental disability. The absence of having a regular income caused them to default on their mortgage which led to their lenders foreclosing on their homes. It could also be that they were forced out of their homes because their family, which is supposed to be the building block of the society. Some of them were even victims of domestic violence. Research showed that 25% of the homeless experienced being abused the previous year. Addiction is a major factor of homelessness and without treatment the disease only festers. And, as you can see from the video, some of the homeless are indifferent, stoic even. They seem to have given up and resigned to their fate. And when they were given food, it’s as if they were taken back by that act of kindness. It’s because they have been so used to being ignored, to being invisible.
“William”, who is featured in the video, said that eating out of the garbage is something that he thought he would never do. It’s heartbreaking to know that he represents the homeless and that this is really what they do. When in fact, majority of America is known to throw away 1/3 of available food. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that “An estimated 133 billion pounds of food is wasted each year. It’s enough to fill the Sears Tower 44 times.” It’s really so easy for us to trash food when some have nothing to eat.
People have the misconception that homeless people are bad or are criminals even. But the reality is – some of them have no choice. This problem begs the answer to the question: What is homelessness really? Could it be a manifestation of a twisted past and given the proper guidance, they can actually put their homelessness behind them? The last and most important question is: What can we do to help alleviate the plight of these people? We only have to read the Bible to know what we can contribute to help address the situation. To paraphrase Matthew 25:35-36:
When I was hungry, did you give me food?
When I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink?
When I was a stranger, did you welcome me?
When I was naked, did you give me clothing?
When I was sick, did you take care of me?
When I was in prison, did you visit me?
Perhaps if we really look at them and not turn away, and show them some love and encouragement, they will be a little less resigned and more enthusiastic and productive and not just be another statistic, trudging along through their lives. Even just one homeless person at a time, surely there’s a way to get them off the streets. May the homeless find a home in our hearts.
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