What I’m Feeling Now…

Posted: March 6, 2007 in Acceptance, Bureauacracy, Compassion, Friendship, Homelessness, Relationships

Last night, I attended a screening of a documentary called "Suckerfish" which dealt with the topic of homelessness – something I know about, because right now, I’m homeless myself.

Being one of the people who had been interviewed, the film’s Producer, Mary Garcia-Lemus and Director, José Lemus, asked that I be present for the screening and the reception afterward.  

I had mixed feelings about the entire evening – having been homeless now for little over a year. It would require me to interact socially with members of "regular" society – a skill that has a tendency to atrophy the longer a person is homeless. Nonetheless, having promised the Producer and Director that I would attend, I did.

Watching the film was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Although I knew all of the things I’d said during the interviews, it was something of a jolt to my emotions to be confronted by me on a subject that many people in our nation would rather pretend doesn’t exist. The bottom line is that homeless is real. It does exist, and unfortunately, it will never go away.

The reception afterward was something I didn’t expect – or rather let me say that the reception I received at the reception was something I didn’t expect. All of those who introduced themselves to me, amid hugs and handshakes, were able to see past my homeless "status" and see the person I am within. Sadly, however, they represent a miniscule number of the American public.

Most people have a stereotypical view of homelessness – one which is both biased and false. The face of homelessness has changed exponentially in the last two or three decades – it is no longer just the "winos" or "skid row derelicts" – now it’s women and children, the elderly, those who have mental or emotional disabilities, men and women who have served in our nation’s military.

It’s naive to believe that homelessness in our nation will reach zero, but if we work together, we can make a significant dent in the numbers of homeless. I’ve always believed that as a nation we are a good people, and once we decide to right an injustice – we, as Americans, have this magnificent way of stepping up to the plate and hitting a Grand Slam. But to tell you the truth, just getting on base right now would be a step in the right direction.

Our country sends billions of dollars a year in Official Development Assistance (foreign aid) – and you know, we should help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. However, as the saying goes, "Charity begins at home." We shouldn’t forget our nations’ own Sons and Daughters.

We can’t be so concerned with helping to paint our neighbors house when our own roof leaks. For America’s homeless, the future’s horizon is filled with dark menacing clouds – even now it’s starting to sprinkle.

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