Tomorrow is Flag Day.
Even thought Flag Day is a holiday, it isn’t the sort of holiday that has been moved to Monday like all of the other holidays. More accurately it is an anniversary – rather than a "regular" holiday. It commemorates the day when the Continental Congress of 1777 officially adopted the American Flag as our nation’s standard.
The word "standard" has many different meanings. One definition is:
"A flag, banner, or ensign, especially the ensign of a chief of state, nation, or city."
The second definition is:
"An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion."
We talk about raising our "standard" of living, or the "standard" wage, or the "standard" way of doing things and things like that.
In short, "standard" is a way of setting a level of measurement or something that we need to rise to: a goal worthy of achieving.
There are a number homeless people within this community who are desperately trying to attain that standard. They hope for nothing more than to be "regular" people. But, they time and time run into a variety of roadblocks that hinder them.
Most of these roadblocks come in the form of discrimination from members of the mainstream community or from businesses that they seek employment from, and even from the local government itself.
The ever present misconceptions that surround homelessness seem to be so deeply embedded within the psyche of most folks that a homeless person who truly desires to raise their standard of living has little or no chance of advance.
While there are government and non-profit agency programs that will help the homeless, they tend to lean toward those homeless who have physical or mental disabilities, those who have alcohol or drug addiction problems and even those who are on probation or parole.
Subsequently there are numerous homeless persons who fall between the cracks and are consequently unable to avail themselves of resources that could potentially help them get back on their feet because they "don’t qualify" for any type of government assistance.
As a result, these persons are forced to try and work through homelessness – and beyond – completely on their own. They’ve been abandoned by the very system that is supposed to help them, but due to unreasonable bureaucratic double talk and unreasonable "prerequisites" find themselves facing long tenures in homelessness.
I have absolutely no problem with helping those who are physically or mentally disabled. I agree that we should be helping them. I also, have no problems reaching out a helping hand to those who have alcohol or drug abuse issues. We should be helping them.
But way do we continue to deny those who truly desire a respite from homelessness the same opportunity?
In a country where all a supposed to be equal, why are there those who are constantly being denied an equal opportunity to raise their standard of living?
Perhaps, the next time we see the American Flag waving proudly in the breeze, we should seek to remind ourselves that it is the standard that we have set for ourselves and that no one should be denied the fair chance at reaching for it.