I’m "We The People," Too!

Posted: March 16, 2007 in Acceptance, Bureauacracy, Civil Rights, Compassion, Discrimination, Government, Homelessness, Relationships, Self Esteem

The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution says:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We The People.

I like that. I like that there’s no asterisk after that phrase pointing to a footnote or disclaimer. I like that is doesn’t say: We the wealthy or We the aristocracy; We the Executive Branch; We the Legislature; We the Judiciary; We the Police Department; of any other exclusionary group.

No. It says: We the People!

What an absolutely magnificent statement. We the People.

The word "We" denotes a collective; two or more. "People" means… well, if you don’t know what people means… shame on you.

Late yesterday afternoon, my other half and I were at the Marigold Shopping Center. We were sitting, with our Diet Cokes, taking a breather from the stress of the everyday struggles of being homeless.

There are some who would say that being homeless can’t be all that stressful. I mean, after all it’s not like homeless people have any type of responsibilities, right? It isn’t as though they have to go out and work to pay bills or put food on the table.

Someone once said something to the effect that you shouldn’t criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And let me tell you – from experience – I would much rather have the stress associated with working and paying bills than the stress of being homeless!

Anyway…

There we were, at the Marigold Shopping Center, when all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice. A voice from the very recent past. In fact a voice from just this past week. And as I looked up I saw a face, that once again was wearing an enormous smile – Kathy… er, actually Cathy.

When I wrote: "Q’s and A’s. Yikes!," I wasn’t sure if her name was spelt with a K or with a C, so I used K. Now I know better. It’s spelled with a C.

The conversation went here, there, and everywhere – like most conversations do. In many ways, it was as though we were all long time friends catching up on old times. Yet I had only met her 5 days ago.

She let us share with her some of the things we’ve had to go through being homeless and things we’re going through right now. We told her about good things, bad things and some things in between. She even made it clear that if she saw me at Subway again, she was going to buy me another sub sandwich. And she was absolutely delighted when I told her I’d mentioned her in my blog.

To many people, running into someone they know, whether at a shopping center or at the local coffee shop, may not altogether be a major event. But when you’re homeless and you encounter a friendly and familiar face – especially from the non-homeless part of the community, someone who genuinely sees you as a person, instead of a "homeless" person – it has a way of lifting your spirit. I somehow lifts the burden of homelessness from your shoulders. It helps you walk a little lighter; a bit more straight shouldered. It helps heal your self-esteem. It even deflects feelings of hopelessness. It gives you some hope and strength to face tomorrow. But most of all, it creates a memory that you can bring out again when life throws you a curve ball and you can’t seem to find the will to go another step.

I’m glad we ran into Cathy; or she ran into us – which ever it was. I’m honored that she took the time to talk to us, took the time to get to know us a little better, took the time to laugh with us.

They say that laughter is the best medicine. It’s so true – even in small doses.

Cathy, my apologies for spelling your name wrong first time around. I got it right this time. AND thank you, for not judging the book by it’s cover, for being able to see past the surface of homelessness and for treating us with the dignity of being part of…

…We The People.

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