What If…

Posted: June 6, 2007 in Acceptance, Homelessness, Hopes

It turns out that San Luis Obispo has a semi-pro baseball team called the Blues. From what I’ve been told they’re supposed to be a really good team.

This past Saturday marked the beginning of the baseball season and there was a big to-do at the stadium where the SLO Blues play. There was a fireworks display and other such festivities. I didn’t attend.  

But, from where my small tent is set up I could see the fireworks – and I could hear the cheers of the crowd. The stadium announcer did his best to keep the audience whipped into a frenzy with his "Let’s Get Ready To Rumble" imitations. All in all, I’m sure that everyone there was having a good time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to any type of sporting event. However, I do remember well what it’s like: the crowd cheering the home team on no matter how far behind they were in the game, the hot dogs and other goodies, the laughter, the excitement.

From inside my tent, as I listened to the sounds of the crowd applauding, shouting and screaming I started thinking how Americans love to cheer. And, although, some people cheer only for the winning team or the number one contender, a good majority of Americans love to cheer for the underdog.

There’s just something wonderfully American about that. And that, started me thinking about something else…

As bizarre as it may seem to some, I starting thinking what if Americans took that same fervor, that same excitement, that same attitude of cheering on the underdog and started dealing with the homeless situation in our community the same way – just imagine what kind of impact we could have at significantly reducing the numbers of homeless within our city.

I know that there are many who think that the solution to homelessness in our community is the passing of laws and ordinances that make life uncomfortable for the homeless in the hope that the homeless will just go elsewhere. But current history has already shown that these tactics have little or no effect. The numbers of homeless doesn’t ever seem to go down, instead – at least here in SLO – it’s on the rise.

But, what if – as a community – we started "cheering" the homeless instead of "booing" and jeering them? What if we started giving them all of the encouragement they need to raise their standard of living? What if we started behaving toward the homeless they way we do when our "home team" is behind in the game and it’s the bottom of the ninth, two men out, three men on, with a full count? What if, instead of leaving the stadium, we waited for the very last pitch and then still clapped and shouted our support?

And what if, even if they lost, we still continued to applaud them as they left the field? At the very least they would be able to walk out with their heads held up instead of walking out with their chins dragging on the ground. After all, there’s always the next game, isn’t there?

I’m not naive enough to believe that every homeless person can hit a "grand slam." There are certainly some homeless who will "strike out." But, there are some who – with our encouragement and help – could get on base.

And, isn’t that what we should be hoping for?

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