I Hope…

Posted: September 8, 2007 in Compassion, Homelessness, Hopes

In the news this morning I read an update on the sub-tropical storm that is approaching the coast line of the Carolinas. The report said there are sustained winds of around 40 miles per hour, with wind gusts of around 50 miles per hour. If you stop and think about it a minute, that’s faster than most automobiles are allowed to travel down side streets.

If Gabrielle does indeed hit land, it will leave a wake of devastation behind and will undoubtedly leave many without a place to live. In other words there is a potential for thousands of people to become homeless. Of course, our nation will rise to the occasion and there will be an outpouring of support for those who are affected by this crisis as they did when Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana.  

What strikes me most about this type of disaster is that literally thousands of people will be affected all at once. Their lives will have been turned upside down in a relatively short span of time. And then, there will be the inevitable ongoing news coverage of it – which is good. We, as a nation, need to recognize that unfortunate things happen to regular people.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the way we view an individual homeless person that isn’t always the case. Large groups of people who become homeless due to a major catastrophe seems something that our minds are able to grasp, but one family, or a singular person who becomes homeless due to circumstances beyond their control for some reason seems beyond the grasp of our ability to comprehend.

Everyday in this country, families and individuals – regular people – do indeed become homeless because of a set of unfortunately occurrences. These occurrences could be due to something as simple as a medical emergency, loss of employment as a result of downsizing or job exportations – and yes, the ever increasing cost of housing.

Yet, for some unknown reason, we can’t seem to find it within ourselves to recognize these realities. Instead, when we see a homeless person walking down the street, trudging under the weight of their backpacks filled will all what’s left of their worldly possessions, we shake our heads and automatically assume that that person brought about their own homelessness – or worst of all, we simply ignore them.

We’ve become so accustomed to neglecting our homeless that even when it does occur to us that we should be doing something to help, we don’t. Instead we wait for others to take action. We blindly accept the notion that there are homeless shelters that are "helping" the homeless and so we take no further steps at trying to make a difference. And we do so without realizing that there simply aren’t enough resources to accommodate those who homeless who need it.

It seems inconceivable to me that we are content let children, women, senior citizens and veterans continue to have to live their lives on the streets of our country – especially when we actually have the ability and resources to prevent it.

I hope that Gabrielle doesn’t hit land. I hope she loses momentum and peters out. I hope that if she does create havoc that the numbers of people who become homeless as a result are minimal.

I hope…

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