Posted: September 17, 2007 in Acceptance, Homelessness, Misconceptions

Several evenings ago someone asked me if, on looking back on my life, I have any regrets. I had to stop and think about it for a bit. When I finally made a reply, I had to admit that no; I really don’t have any regrets.

There certainly have been times when the choices I’ve made were not the best or the wisest, and there have been events in my life that caused me to ask the unanswerable question: "Why Me?" but, for the most part life has been… well, it’s been life – full of different situations, each of which I’ve dealt with in the best possible manner.  

Perhaps one of the reasons that I don’t have any regrets is that I simply don’t have the tendency to dwell on the past. My focus is on the here and now, as well as the future. I learned a long time ago that there is nothing about my past that I can change. Beside that, I’ve always known that a person can’t move ahead into the future if they continue to cling to the past.

Yet, there are many people who do cling to the past, tenaciously refusing to let go. And you can tell they do by the words that come out of their mouths.

There are a number of homeless people I’ve met who are so focused on their past; how life used to be, where they used to live, how much money they did or didn’t make and any number of other things. And, at the drop of a hat they are ready to tell you their entire life history – even if you don’t want to hear it. And, all of it is reflected by their inability to move forward in life.

On the other hand, there are also a number of homeless people I’ve met who seldom, if ever, speak about their past – not out of shame but, rather because they’ve become so focused on trying to find a way out of homelessness, they just don’t have the time to sit and "chew the fat." These are the homeless who eventually find a way of the streets.

I’ve come to the conclusion that among the reasons that, as a society, we seem unable to make any headway when it comes to significantly reducing the numbers of homeless is because we’re too focused on what a person may or may have not done to become homeless. And so, in essence, we’re focused on the past.

We see a homeless person, and for the most part, we make assumptions about their past. This type of assumptive thinking prevents us from being able to help them in their present situation and limits our ability to help them move ahead into the future.

I’m sure that there are those who will say that looking at the past is a good way for us to learn from our mistakes. History, however, has shown that human beings seldom learn from their past mistakes. This is why we keep going through the same societal cycles over and over… and the regrets just keep piling up.

Everyone has a stake in the future – from the best fed to the lowliest person who lives their life in a cardboard hovel in some darkened corner.

We owe it to ourselves as a nation to beginning thinking about how our actions today will impact the tomorrows of the future.

  1. Ernie and Sharon Miller says:

    Dear Michael,

    Over the past few weeks, Sharon and I (Ernie Miller) have read your excellant postings, letters, about the “Homeless”. They have been a good refresher course for me. Keep up the good work.

    Jose and Mary Lemus gave us your website address.

    Thanks again, Ernie

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