I Still…

Posted: May 22, 2007 in Acceptance, Compassion, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness

Tomorrow morning there is going to be a meeting of what is called the Homeless Services Coordination Committee and they will be showing Suckerfish – a documentary about homelessness – at the San Luis Obispo public library. And, because José Lemus, the film’s director asked me to attend – and I gave him my word – I’ll be there also.

This will be the third time I’ve seen it.  

The two previous showings of the film affected me in some strange ways. That stirred up a large number of conflicting emotions. And, although I’ve been trying to steel myself against having those feelings stirred up again, I’m not certain if I’ll be ready to sit through a third showing.

I have to admit that because of the previous showings a number of good things have happened in my life – and so, to that end, it was good for me to be there. This time however, I’m a bit apprehensive about it all. I don’t really know why.

The bottom line is that I’m pretty much the same person I was before I became homeless. That’s not to say that I have endured unscathed or haven’t been affected by homelessness in ways that I don’t necessarily like, but the core of who and what I am remains pretty much intact.

I still have a strong sense of self, although not quite as strong as before. It’s easy to lose a part of that when you become just another homeless person, a name on a list, another statistic.

I still maintain certain things to be right and wrong. That’s something that many in the homeless community have lost. Perhaps it’s because of the way they are treated in general by the rest of society.

I still see people as being connected, one to another. We’re all part of the larger scheme of things; some overall need to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

I still believe that there is always the potential for becoming a better person. Even in adversity there is the possible of personal growth – it all depends on how a person chooses to deal with the cards that life deals them.

I still believe that I’m responsible for my own actions. Whatever choices I make today – wise or unwise – will certainly affect the outcome of my future, they will dictate the path my life will take tomorrow. And subsequently, I’ll be the one who pays for my own actions.

I still believe in the basic kindness in the human heart (mine included). Each day I somehow, someway manage to bump into at least one person who is able to see past the exterior of homelessness and see the person within me. That’s magic.

I still believe that no matter how many things aren’t right with this country, it is still the best place in the world to live. Each time I see our nation’s flag, it stirs something up inside of me that can’t be quenched. Call it patriotism, call it sense of national pride, and call it whatever – but its there inside of me just the same.

I still believe that, although there are many in our country that care only about themselves, as a nation we are a good a decent people, a people who, when things are at their worst, we are at our best.

I still believe that the ideals and principles on which this nation of ours was born still the underlying reasons for our overall prosperity – and why we are the nation that all other countries look to in times of need.

I still believe that, when given the chance, a person can rise to the occasion; when a person is treated disdainfully, they will respond in a manner that is similar, and that when a person is treated with dignity and respect they will behave respectfully.

But most all I still believe that, as an American – as a human being, I have something to offer my community; that I can become more than the sum of my parts; that I’m worthy of being accepted for who I am – a person – and not what I am; that once a person recognizes the humanity within me they will recognize the humanity within themselves…

…And the humanity in all of us.

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