Another Question Asked

Posted: May 15, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Civil Rights, Government, Homelessness, Morality

One thing this blog does is generate its fair share of emails.

Over the last fourteen months that I’ve been writing it, I’ve received who knows how many emails from folks who want to "do something to help the homeless." The person then goes on to say that they have an idea and would I be willing to help and would I please give them some feedback.

Invariably, each time I ask what exactly they have in mind, I never hear from them again. Oh well.

I’ve also had my fair share of emails from various non-profit organizations who want to know if I’d be interested in participating in this function or that function that they are planning on putting together – oh, and by the way, do I think it’s possible that I mention it in one of my upcoming posts.  

Over the last couple of months, I have received numerous emails from college and university students making requests for information about homelessness. They are writing a journalism paper on homelessness; they are writing their sociology thesis on homelessness; they’re getting ready to use homelessness as the topic of their public speaking class. The list goes on and on.

The one thing all of the emails from these students have in common is that they are always asking for data that I’ve already written about in one of my posts. So I generally refer them back to the blog and tell to use the search widget over to the right of the page and I also mention using regular search engines.

Some of them email back, saying that they found the information but they need other information and could I please check and see if there is somewhere on the Internet where they can find it; they would deeply appreciate it.

One of the most recent emails I received from a college student was sitting in my Inbox when I logged on today. It came from a Joumana Soufi – who didn’t mention what university or college they attend – and started with this:

I am a senior business administration student, and i chose to talk about ‘Homelessness’ as my graduation project.

I was hoping that you can give me little of your time to answer few questions that i have about homelessness. They are the following:

I must see mathematics differently than this current generation of students do. I’ve always seen "a couple" as meaning two; "a few" as meaning three and "several" as meaning four or more. In the case of Joumana Soufi, "a few questions" turned out to be fourteen distinct questions – most of which he could have found answers for by doing a Google Search.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems answering one question, maybe even two, but with the numbers of emails I received inquiring about my thoughts on homelessness I simply do not have the time to answer fourteen questions for one specific individual. On top of that, it occurs to me that since it’s for his graduation project, he should be the one doing the "leg work" – not me. After all, it’s his grade he’s vying for. And, if I can find the data, he should be able to as well.

There is one question he asked that did catch my attention though. It asked for my opinion rather than for data or statistical numbers. The question was number ten on the list:

10 – In your opinion, what are the homeless rights?

As far as I’m concerned the homeless have the exact same rights as every other American citizen – period. Of course, I’m basing that "opinion" on the fact that the U.S. Constitution guarantees those rights.

Every American citizen – homeless or housed – is entitled to be treated with human dignity and respect.

Unfortunately, there are those members of the "housed" segment of our society who tend to forget that homeless people are indeed people; that they aren’t any less human simply because they don’t have a place to live.

It’s also unfortunate that quite often our elected leaders, at every level of government, forget that homeless people are also part of this nations’ citizenry and entitled to have their interests represented along side with those who are housed members of the community.

Sometimes it seems to me that the only time our elected leaders actually take note of the homeless is when they receive complaints from someone within the community or from some of the business leaders. Then the way they handle the situation is to create laws and ordinances that penalize and criminalize the life sustaining activities of the homeless.

It’s funny that our elected leaders seldom think of increasing funding for homeless support services or for creating programs that will actually help the homeless become productive members of the community again.

For some peculiar reason it never occurs to them that the only effective method for reducing homelessness in the community is by providing the means for the homeless to get off of the streets and into stable housing; and by providing a means for them to become gainfully employed and self-sustaining.

The United States is a "member state" of the United Nations, and has pledged to adhere to certain declarations. One of them is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which was adopted on December 10, 1948.

Article 25, section 1 of the Declaration states:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

With as many homeless as there are in our nation, it seems to me that our elected leaders haven’t done all that well at fulfilling their pledge.

  1. Stay strong on this one – a college student can do their own research, and reading your site would be well worth the time spent. Some people are just lazy!

    Your comment echos my own sentiments about college students being able to do their own research – especially those who are working toward a journalism degress. Checking facts is supposed to be what they do.

    It’s a shame that there are those students who want the benefits of an education, but aren’t willing to put forth the efforts needed to attain their degree. You’re right – they’re lazy… but no one seems to care about that.

    Yet, they’ll categorically condemn a homeless person who can’t find a job and label them with the word.

    – m –

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