Posted: September 22, 2007 in Acceptance, Discrimination, Homelessness

My calendar tells me that yesterday was Yom Kippur.

Because of the way the Jewish calendar is set up with their days beginning at 6:00 PM and ending the "following" day at the same time, I’m not really sure if Yom Kippur began at 6:00 PM on Thursday and ended at 6:00 PM yesterday, or if it began at 6:00 PM yesterday and will end at 6:00 PM today.  

That aside, Yom Kippur is the holiest of days for those of the Jewish faith – it is The Day of Atonement. It is the day when all of their sins and shortcomings of the past year are forgiven, and so countless persons of that faith all across the nation attend their synagogue for a special Yom Kippur service.

All of the major religions also have a way for their respective followers to be atoned and be "cleansed" of their wrong doings and, as a result become reconciled to God they worship. This is a good thing because it means that a person has a chance to start over with a clean slate.

One of the definitions of the word "reconcile" is:

"To reestablish a close relationship between."

I like the word reconcile – or more accurately: reconciliation.

I like the idea that persons who were at odds with each other could be brought back together; that they can once again renew ties that may have been strained or even severed. I like the idea that reconciliation means that they agree to put the past behind them and move toward the future together. I like the idea that reconciliation means having a new start.

Sadly though, there seems to be little reconciliation afforded those who are homeless. For the most part, the majority of mainstream society simply doesn’t want the homeless around. There is this reluctance to provide adequate means for the homeless to be reconciled to the rest of the society.

It seems odd to me that we speak of human rights, but when it comes to the homeless we have a tendency to deny them those rights. We’ll go through great lengths to make sure that a condemned criminal has access to legal representation so that none of their civil rights are violated, but we seem to have no problem with denying the homeless those same rights.

In city after city, all across this country, the local governments continue to write, adopt and enact legislation that curtails and abridges the rights of the homeless – and since they cannot come right out and make it a crime to be homeless, they pass laws that penalize a homeless person for engaging in activities that are a result of homelessness: sitting somewhere for too long, panhandling, recycling, etcetera.

What would be nice is if local governments would begin passing laws that would enable persons who are homeless to become reconciled to the rest of society.

Isn’t it time we put out the welcome mat and began welcoming the homeless home?


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