Click This!

Posted: May 14, 2007 in Discrimination, Friendship, Homelessness, Misconceptions

Long before BIC lighters there was the BIC ballpoint pen. Then, BIC introduced a retractable version of its pen and began using the advertising slogan: "Click Your BIC."

When people first meet, if they feel comfortable with one another straightaway we say, "things just clicked between them." When seemingly out of nowhere a solution or answer presents itself to your mind then "something just clicked." In the old days some people used to refer to the remote control as "the clicker." And, now with the advent of personal computers and the Internet we "point and click."

There’s something about the word click that we seem to like. Perhaps it’s the sound.  

There’s another type of click that people engage in – although it’s spelt "clique." I have a suspicion that we prefer that spelling, as opposed to "click" because it’s looks French and it gives us a slight feeling of being a bit more sophisticated than we really are.

The thing about cliques is that they are exclusionary. They pull together only certain individuals and omit almost everyone else. For example, in high school there were the "beautiful people" and then there were the rest of us.

I like to think of myself as being above all of that. I like to believe that I treat everyone equally, but deep down inside I know that’s just not true. And, there is no amount of pretending will change that reality. Face it; all of us are "clique-ish" (if such a word exists) in one way or another. We have a way of gravitating towards others who share similar viewpoint and ideals and have limited interaction with those who don’t.

For instanceā€¦

There are certain types of homeless people who I seem to go way out of my way to avoid associating with. That may seem odd considering that I’m one of this community’s homeless. But, I just don’t like being around people who are constantly getting drunk or high; those who use excessive amounts of profanity; those who are mean spirited; or even those who are just down right lazy and have no ambition to do anything with their lives.

In fact, I hold to the same points of view now – that I’m homeless – as I did before I became homeless. There are certain types of people that I like being around, and there are certain types of people that I don’t like being around.

Don’t misunderstand me; it isn’t that I think that I’m better than anyone else – just different. The people I’ve always enjoyed being around are those who are seeking ways to improve their day to day lives; those who are struggling to advance – even if it’s little by little; those who try to be people of good moral and ethical character. As a result, the homeless people I associate myself with are those who are working or actively seeking employment; those who are compassionate; kind; loyal; those who are truly trying to find a way of regaining the life that they once had.

The sad part is that most people tend to cast all homeless people in the same mold. It’s a "since all rabbits are mammals and have four feet, then all four-footed mammals must be rabbits" type of reasoning. And the media doesn’t help the situation either.

It seems that whenever there is an article about homeless people, it’s always negative. The homeless are invariably portrayed as drug addicts, drunks and winos. The movies coming out of the film industry doesn’t help shatter the false image what homelessness is all or why it occurs either. If anything all they serve do is reinforce the misconceptions that the large majority of people have regarding homelessness.

It’s true that the homeless population does have its share of those types of people; I would like to point out that so does the non-homeless segment of our community.

Does the homeless population have unsavory and criminal minded persons? Absolutely. However, so does the non-homeless population. If that were untrue, how would you explain Enron and other such malfeasance from the so-called "respectable" people?

As for the homeless who have become my friends –

They are the ones who cling to the hope of one day becoming and accepted and welcome part of our community.

But, will their hopes become reality? I like to believe that the answer is yes. But, they are going to have a steep and hard upward climb because it’s the troublemakers of the homeless population who make the headlines. Those headlines serve only to inflame the non-homeless part of our community against the homeless. It makes the majority of our community believe that all homeless people are just the same.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the news media starting telling both sides of the story instead of feeding the public negative sensationalism?

Perhaps then, this community would be able to clearly see past the surface of homelessness and recognize the humanity in those of us homeless who daily must trudge under the weight of backpacks filled with the sum of our entire lives.

And perhaps then more of the homeless would be seen as "redeemable" – instead of repulsive – in the eyes of our fellow citizens.

And maybe – just maybe – more of the homeless would finally have the genuine opportunity to pick up the pieces of their lives and have the chance of becoming whole again.

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