Thinking Left Handed

Posted: July 31, 2007 in Acceptance, Discrimination, Homelessness, Misconceptions

A little as 3 or 4 decades ago people who were left-handed or had tendencies toward being left-handedness were thought of a "not normal." In some of the older or more superstitious cultures, a person who was left-handed was sometimes believed to have evil spirits or demons, subsequently when a child showed even the slightest inclination to be left-handed they were dissuaded from using their left hands. Even in the public school system, children were often given a slap in the wrist with a ruler or yardstick in order to prevent their using of their left hand.

With the advance in science, we have learned that left-handedness is a normal and society has come to accept left-handedness as such. In fact, science has shown that it is the right hemisphere of the brain that controls and operates the left side of the body, while the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.  

In many ways homelessness is the same way. People see a homeless person as a social aberration; a type of outcast; someone who isn’t worthy of being recognized as a person; someone who isn’t "normal." This view of homelessness is based on a true lack of understanding the overall reasons behind homelessness. And, there are many reasons why a person becomes homeless.

To be sure, there are those for whom homelessness is a deliberate choice. However, with the ever increasing cost of living, the declining number of affordable housing units, companies that have outsourced jobs or have simply moved their factories to other countries, as well as a minimum wage that has not kept up with the financial demands of life, more and more people are finding themselves homeless.

In addition, the numbers of women, with and without children, who find themselves homeless because they are fleeing domestic violence has increased in alarming numbers.

According to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless, almost half of all of America’s homeless woman are homeless because of domestic violence.

Unfortunately, because Americans cling to the stereotypical ideas of who the homeless are and do not take the time to understand the true causes behind homelessness there is little that is actually being done to help those who find themselves living life on the streets.

To make matters worse, the nation’s elected leaders fail to create meaningful legislation to address the needs of the homeless. This lack of legislation further aggravates the situation by the lack of adequate funding to those organizations and agencies that do provide services to the homeless.

For the homeless, every twist and turn is wrought with lack of available resources to help them regain a firm foothold in society. And like the left-handed persons of not so long ago, the homeless – and their needs – are misunderstood.

Wouldn’t it be better if we took to the time to accept them for what they are: people?

Maybe then, they would have a decent and realistic chance of being able to find a way out of their despair.


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