Yesterday while riding the bus I overheard one of the passengers talking to the bus driver. The passenger was telling the bus driver about all of the different "exotic meats" he has eaten – things like: rattlesnake, shark, calamari, frog’s legs, and octopus. What caught my attention is when he finished by telling the driver that it all tasted like chicken.
I’ve eaten a number of different types of foods and none of them taste like chicken to me. Even chicken eggs don’t taste like chicken to me – although considering that they are laid by chickens you would think that they would. To me everything has its own wonderfully unique taste. The only thing that tastes like chicken to me is chicken.
Afterward I began to wonder if people who say that certain foods taste like chicken have actually eaten the food them say they did. Perhaps their palettes are not as finely tuned as they think. Or it could be that everything tastes like chicken and my palette isn’t sophisticated enough to know.
I don’t know what they answer is, but it started another chain of thoughts in my mind.
When people see a homeless person what is it they really see? Do they see the person beneath the rumpled exterior? Are they able to recognize the individuality in that person or do they automatically assume that all homeless people are the same? And most importantly, if they do think that all homeless persons are exactly the same – how is it that their social and moral palettes aren’t finely tuned enough to discern the difference?
Homelessness is a growing problem in our society and, it’s going to continue to grow until someone somewhere finally wakes up and starts viewing the situation in the proper perspective.
Instead of looking at the homeless as a social group, we need to attempt to see them as individuals with specific needs. Then we can go about trying to help them find a way out of homelessness.
Most people who take the time to get to know and understand the reasons why any one person is homeless will probably discover that what they thought were the reasons are far from the actual truth. And all it takes is a willingness to invest a few minutes of conversation.
If we’re going to have a chance at helping those less fortunate than ourselves, we need to get past the "it tastes like chicken" frame of mind. Only then will be able to find the solution to an age long problem. And, only then will those who want desperately to become a productive part of their community have the chance to do so.