Two Men

Posted: September 20, 2007 in Discrimination, Health, Homelessness

There are two men who I see frequently on the buses. These two men have much in common: both are homeless, both tote and lug all of the belongings around with them everywhere they go, both have noticeable physical disabilities, both have slight emotional/psychological disabilities, neither one of them tries to stay at the homeless shelter.

The older of the two has, what appears to be, severe osteoporosis. The younger, has difficultly with motor co-ordination skills, which seem to have resulted from either a severe injury or a stroke.  

In addition to homelessness, both men share an even meaner affliction: both have been victimized with physical assault.

Because of their inability to defend themselves, both men have been seen as easy prey by some of the local area non-homeless youth who, in some sordid display of "manhood," have victimized these men. And this has occurred on more than one occasion.

There have been several occasions, while riding the bus, when I have intervened on their behalf when some high school boys have sought to verbally harass either one of them.

Although I’m not sure how long either one of these men has been homeless, I know that it’s been quite some time. They are both known to staff members of the homeless shelter and the day center, subsequently I’ve often wondered why neither one of these men are receiving adequate help from either one of these facilities – or why it seems that someone isn’t actively trying to find a way to help them.

Since I’m not privy to all of the intricacies regarding their interactions – or lack of interaction – with either the homeless shelter or the day center I’m at a loss to make any comment regarding that issue. However, it seems to me that these men need more than is currently being done.

A couple of years ago, I read an LA Times article about some of the homeless who had been found beaten to death by local area youth. I’d hate to read the SLO Tribune some morning and find a similar article about either one of these two men.

It doesn’t matter if a person is homeless or non-homeless: life is still a precious gift. The quality of that gift is dependant upon us collectively as a society.

Until we are willing to learn the lesson that, yes, we are our brother’s keeper, the homeless will continue to be opposed by those who see them as non-persons.

Until we are willing to make the attempt at seeing past the rumpled exteriors of the homeless, we will see the person beneath.

And, until we are will to take the steps needed to protect them, those homeless who cannot fend for themselves will continue to be victimized by predators – both homeless and non-homeless – who lack a moral conscience.

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