Getting A Clear Focus

Posted: October 26, 2008 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Morality

Over the nearly nineteen months that I’ve been authoring this blog, I’ve received quite a number of e-mails. And I’ve received them from all over. Some praise what I’ve written. Some attempt to show me the error of my ways. And some are just down right mean spirited. Two in particular caught my eye yesterday.  

One was from my bank.

The e-mail informed me that there had been a "computer error" and funds had mistakenly been withdrawn from my account. It went on to say that if I wanted to have those funds re-deposited into my account that I should click on the link they provided and fill out the form. And then there were the obligatory apologies for any inconvenience their "computer error" may have caused me and then thanked me for doing business with them.

While I suppose I should appreciate their apologies and the "thank you’s" I had to decline their offer to redeposit the "mistakenly withdrawn" funds back into my account. You see, I don’t do business with that bank.

The second came from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The e-mail said that the IRS had been doing one of their periodic "routine and random" reviews and somehow my "account" had been one of the millions which had been re-examined. According to the e-mail, I had overpaid on my taxes and was entitled to an immediate refund – plus interest.

That e-mail also had an apology for any inconvenience my over paying of taxes might have caused me and to get my refund I only had to click on the link provided to begin the refund process. I’m sure they, like the bank, had a form for me to fill out. Of course, I had to decline their offer of the refund (plus interest). Although I must admit, like so many American’s, I could use the extra money.

What irritated me about these two pieces of SPAM is that I’m almost certain that there are some folks who had received those same e-mails and actually responded – believing that they were going to get money. In the end though, all they did was get sucked into a scam because of their greed.

Most folks however, I’m sure were wise enough to recognize it for what it is: just another version of the old shell game. Those folks probably just marked it as SPAM and went on with life.

One thought that did go through my mind though, is that most folks probably never think about the fact that all of these scams are being perpetrated by people who have a place to live. The folks who run these scams are liars and thieves. It’s funny though, that I never hear anyone complaining that the folks who engage in these types of scams should go out and get a job. In fact, most folks don’t even take the time to report these scams to the appropriate authorities. They just delete and move on to the next e-mail.

It has always seemed to me to be somewhat of an askew mind set that will allow us to not make much of corporate CEO’s who bilk their companies for huge pension packages, drive the company into the ground and still walk away with a tidy chunk of money. Sure we may grumble about it, but we don’t actually do anything about it, do we?

Or let our elected leaders engage in obscene amounts of spending of taxpayers dollars on their personal perks and other such frivolities. And while we may shake our heads and vocalize our disapproval, we continue to re-elect those same politicians simply because they happen to belong to the same political party that we do and because we aren’t willing to "cross party lines" – even when the other person is a better choice.

Yet, let some down and out homeless person walk up to us in front of a convenience store asking for spare change and we get all riled up about it – as though it were a cardinal sin. Some of us will even go out of their way to spout some derogatory remark and tell the homeless person to get a job and stop sponging off of society.

Or perhaps we’ll see a homeless person standing on a corner holding a cardboard sign, and some of us will go way out of our way, refusing to even "see" the person. Some of us may even shout obscenities at the person as we drive by. There are even those of us who will glare at the person as though they were some hideous disease.

We might even spot a homeless person digging through our trash cans and dumpsters looking for aluminum cans or plastic bottles to recycle. They might even be looking for something to eat. In response, some of us will go so far as to chase the person away, or threaten to call the police. But, how often do we take the time to offer an act of kindness; or a helping hand of compassion?

Just recently I commented to a friend’s blog. As part of the comment I said:

Isn’t it amazing how so many people tend to look at life through the wrong end of the telescope?

I’m of the opinion that this is part of the problem we have with how we view homelessness: we’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Subsequently we’re not getting a "clear view" of the homeless as people. All we’re really seeing are indistinct figures on the horizons of our communities.

I’m convinced that were we to turn the "telescope" around and get a clear focus of homelessness, we’d be more likely to see them as people. And, if we were able to see them as people – with individual needs – we’d have a better chance at providing them with the types of assistance they need to become self-sustaining members of the community.

I like what Dr. Seuss said,

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things aren’t going to get better, they’re not!

  1. AnAmerican says:

    It’s all about the view we take in life,isn’t it?
    FYI: Recently received a phone call from the IRS at my place of employment,returned the call just to find out it was a scam…so it is widespread and has been reported. Be careful out there. (It’s not the homeless doing these things!)

  2. Gary says:

    I get lots of spam in my email… I never thought about that it was people who had a home that were sending them. Thank you for giving me something new to think about. The next time I see a homeless person, I’m going to try to remember what you wrote.

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