What’s Your Score?

Posted: December 12, 2007 in Acceptance, Compassion, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Morality, Stereotypes

Although I like to know what’s going on in the world, I don’t always take the time to physically pick up a newspaper and read it. I do often times listen to the news broadcasts on television while I sit in front of the computer screen and pound away at the keyboard. That, however, has its own drawbacks because I find myself becoming so engrossed in what I’m doing I sometimes miss part of the story or do not get all of the details. Then I’m left scrambling to hunt the down story elsewhere.

That’s where the Internet comes in handy for me.  

While I’m checking my email, publishing a post, or doing whatever online, I have an additional window open so that I can scan the headlines and then read whatever happens to catch my eye. Many times I’ll deliberately do a search for a certain news topic. What I like about this approach is that some of the sites have news banners that change ever 5 seconds or so with the "latest" headlines – something which I like. Of course, these same sites also have advertising banners that do the same thing or just pop up out of nowhere, even though I have my "pop up blocker" function activated. On that subject I have mixed feelings. Still…

Yesterday while I was on a one of the news sites, one of the advertising banners at the top of the page faded out one ad and faded in a new one in it’s placed. It was an ad whose "hook" was to ask "What’s Your Score?" and was about – yes, you guessed it – personal "credit ratings."

Whenever you apply for a credit card, a loan to purchase a house or vehicle, or ever to rent a place to live, a credit check is done on you. What comes back is a number. The higher the number, the better. Excellent credit is somewhere between 750 and 850.

Now because of the sometimes peculiar way my brain operates I began wondering, what if we were given "scores" based on how we treated our fellow human being – in particular, how we treat the homeless in our community? Where would be rate? Would we be in the "Excellent" category? Would we be in the "Not worth mentioning" category? Or, would be fall somewhere in between?

The only "subject" I could truly test was myself. So I began by thinking about the different homeless people I’ve met and all of those who I’ve come to know something about.

Certainly there are some of the homeless in this community who are indeed the epitome of the homeless stereotype. And yes, there are those homeless in this community who choose to be homeless, or who have become homeless at their own hand (as it were).

But then, there are also many of this community’s homeless who have just found themselves facing circumstances that were beyond their control and, consequently have had to experience homelessness as a result.

I’ll admit that I’m not all that enthusiastic about being anywhere near any of the homeless who are trouble makers, want to constantly get drunk, use drugs or in any other manner be belligerent and uncivil. I find myself actually find myself going out of my way to avoid being anywhere near them. But then again, I feel the same way toward non-homeless persons of that same caliber.

On the other hand, there are many of this areas homeless who would give you the proverbial shirt off their backs without the need of you having to ask. They are willing to give you of what little they might have, even if meant going without themselves. But then also there are non-homeless who are just the same.

So how do I view homelessness and, as a result how do I treat the homeless in general? What would be my score?

Two years ago, I believe I would have had a score somewhere in the middle.

As I’ve learned about homelessness; it’s various causes, the day to day struggles that many homeless face, the types of persons who can become afflicted by this devastating condition and the diverse backgrounds from which have come, I have arrived a clearer understanding regarding the necessity for preserving a person’s dignity. I’ve learned that not all homeless persons can be – nor should they be – arbitrarily lumped together into a single "category." I must respond to each person as an individual.

And with that lesson (hopefully) learned, I believe my "score" is just a bit better than it used to be.

Perhaps that’s the entire key to finding a way to effectively reduce the numbers of persons who are afflicted by homelessness every year: by seeing each one of them as individuals and then making – at the very least – an attempt to understand how best we provide the necessary aid to help them.

We may not be able to make a difference in mass numbers, but we certainly can make a difference one person at a time.

So… what’s your score?

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