Meeting Half Way

Posted: October 30, 2007 in Acceptance, Discrimination, Employment, Homelessness

More than once I’ve written that my day starts with a cup of coffee or a cup of hot chocolate. Of late, it’s been the hot chocolate. Actually, I like the hot chocolate better, so that’s what I’ve been getting.

Most people love chocolate, because it actually creates a somewhat euphoric feeling. Of course, now we know that it’s because chocolate causes the brain to release certain types of hormonal chemicals and that’s what gives us that slight feeling of bliss.

There are different types of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and, my personal favorite, semi-sweet.  

To me semi-sweet is the best of both worlds: just sweet enough to satisfy my desire for something sweet, but not overly sweet. And of course, whenever I have a piece of semi-sweet chocolate, my tummy sends me Thank You cards.

Lately I’ve been thinking that perhaps as a society we should be a little bit more like semi-sweet chocolate when it comes to way we not only perceive the homeless, but in the way we treat and respond to homelessness.

In truth, most homeless people don’t want to be homeless. They want to have a place to live. They want to be able to afford some of the more basic necessities in life. And, most of them are willing to work toward achieving that.

Society in general, on the other hand, is seemingly unwilling to allow the homeless the opportunity of actually getting out of homelessness. And, before anyone starts yelling at their monitor telling me that I don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain my train of thought.

Yes, as a society, we have homeless shelters all throughout the nation. And yes, as a society, we give money to those organizations that provide the homeless with food, shelter and clothing. But, what we as a society do not provide the homeless is an actual way of raising their standards of living.

As business owners, we do this by discriminating against the homeless when they come into to fill out job applications. As private citizens we do this by looking down on the homeless as they go their way trying to survive. As legislators, we continually adopt and enact legislation and ordinances that penalize the homeless for performing survival sustaining activities.

It is seldom and rare when a business knowingly hires someone who is homeless. Most of the homeless who do fill out job applications will not tell their prospective employer that they are homeless so that they can increase their chance of getting the job.

It is few and far between when as private citizens we are willing to find out EXACTLY what we can do to help a homeless person. Most of the time we are content to give our money to non-profit organizations that are supposed to help the homeless, but we do so without really knowing how and where that money is being spent. Is the majority of the money being spent to help the homeless, or is it being spent on salaries and other administrative costs?

It is almost non-existent when legislators and law makers actually write, adopt and enact legislation that genuinely provides solutions for helping the homeless transition back into the main stream community. Most of the time, those laws serve to provide a way to further hide the homeless from the eyes of the main stream public.

I’m not saying that we need to hand the homeless everything on a silver platter. I’m not advocating doing things for the homeless that doesn’t require them to put in some effort on their own behalves. I’m not even pretending that EVERY homeless person can be helped.

But certainly there are those who would genuinely appreciate to be allowed the chance to get out of homeless and feel as though they are a part of the community in which they exist; that they belong; that they aren’t outcasts.

The only way for us to achieve viable results of reducing the numbers of homeless is by both sides being willing to meet the other side half way. Unfortunately, both sides continue to wait on the other side to make the first move.

And, although it’s not my place to say which side SHOULD make the first move, it seems to me that the "haves" are in a better position to do so.

  1. Skye says:

    As a society, we don’t do enough. We give to the shelters and such, but I think that is mostly to ease our conscience. “I gave.” Makes us feel self satisfied and self righteous.

    (dark chocolate is my fave too)

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