Posted: January 19, 2008 in Acceptance, Compassion, Homelessness, Morality

The word "concern" can be used as a verb or a noun.

As a noun, there are three of its definitions that catch my attention:

  • Something that interests you because it is important or affects you
  • A feeling of sympathy for someone or something
  • Something or someone that causes anxiety; a source of unhappiness

When it comes right down to it, the majority of people are more concerned with homelessness because they see the homeless as a nuisance, than they are concerned with the homeless as people. Therein lies one of the biggest obstacles we have as a society when it comes to finding an effective remedy at ending homelessness in our nation.  

When we say that we’re concerned about the homeless, for the most part what we are really saying is: "How can we get the homeless to leave here and go somewhere else?"

Instead, the manner in which we should be concerned is to be asking ourselves: "How can we help the homeless help themselves? What can we do to provide the means with which those homeless who want help can become self-sustaining and productive members of our communities once again?"

The concern that most municipalities have when it comes to the homeless entails finding ways of passing laws and ordinances that curtail the activities of the homeless: panhandling, sleeping in public, loitering and even the going through trash cans and dumpsters for plastic bottles and aluminum cans to recycle.

Some cities have gone as far as prohibiting the feeding of the homeless in public spaces. Other cities have made it difficult for churches and other benevolent organizations from feeding the homeless at their own facilities. The logic behind this manner of dealing with homelessness is based on the erroneous belief that making it more difficult to be homeless in the community, the homeless will simply move along to somewhere else. But, the homeless don’t go somewhere else. They just sink deeper into the shadows. And, in the long run, ends up costing taxpayers more money.

If we were truly concerned with ending homelessness in our communities, we would take the time to remember that those persons experiencing homelessness are, for the most part, people who have run into hard times. They require a hand up. They need some way of being able to take hold of the bottom rung on the ladder of life so that they have a chance of becoming upwardly mobile again.

To be sure, there are always going to be those homeless who will eschew anything that would require them to become self-sufficient and responsible. There will always be those homeless who are more concerned with getting drunk or high. There will also be those homeless who want to remain homeless. But that’s their choice.

Our choice should be to be concerned about those homeless who are willing to work at getting ahead in life. Our concerned should be to see those homeless as individuals who are worthy to be helped. We should be concerned with taking the current methodologies of dealing with homelessness and re-vamping them so that they are less bureaucratic and more humanitarian.

We should be concerned with how we would like the rest of society to behave toward us, if by chance we should happen to become afflicted with homelessness.


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