Dark Secrets

Posted: July 23, 2007 in Acceptance, Discrimination, Homelessness

Late yesterday afternoon I was sitting and talking with "Suckerfish" producer, Mary Garcia-Lemus and at one point in the conversation the subject came up regarding people who have managed to escape homelessness and have become a part of the mainstream community once again.

Since I know many of these individuals she wondered whether I would be able to arrange for her and her husband, JosĂ© Lemus, the film’s director to meet and possibly interview some of them for another documentary film that would show that there is indeed hope for those who truly want to get out of homelessness – if only they are given the opportunity to do so. While I will certainly try to arrange these meetings for them, I’m not altogether sure that I’ll be able to succeed at doing so.  

Human beings are filled with many personal attributes. Some are inherent and others are learned or acquired. And, unfortunately, those that are acquired are not always the best or wholesome of attributes.

Take intolerance for example.

Intolerance isn’t something that we are born with. Generally it’s something that we are taught or learn on our own. And, it is probably the most detrimental, not only personally, but socially as well. It creates barriers between ourselves and others. It can cause us to look at other persons with disdain and prejudice. It can also create within us a false sense of superiority based on social or economic values.

Because of this, the majority of people who have experienced homelessness at one time or another will avoid admitting having been homeless. They will do everything and anything to keep others from knowing their "secret." This secret, in turn, becomes an emotional and psychological burden because there is always the possibility that someone will discover that they were homeless at one time or another in the past and, consequently, be viewed as an outcast once again.

Since human beings are by nature, social creatures, there is an underlying need to feel accepted. With a few exceptions, once a person who has been homeless becomes part of the "real" world once again they cling to their new lives and the social acceptance that comes with it.

Sadly because of the stigma that is associated with homelessness, some of those who do get out of may even go so far as to distance themselves from their past by developing an intolerance toward other homeless persons in hopes of preventing others from knowing of their past experiences with it.

Even more sadly, this in turn only serves to further perpetuate social intolerance toward those who must live a life on the streets of our communities.

But the saddest thing of all is that there are those who feel they must keep their dark secrets – and all because of intolerance.

Intolerance keeps every one a prisoner.

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