Trick Or Treat

Posted: October 31, 2008 in Children, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Morality, Poverty

This evening, all across the nation, children of all ages will be going door to door Trick or Treating. Most of them will be dressed in costumes of all types. There will be candy being given away by the handful. There will be laughter.

I’m not sure how the whole Trick or Treat tradition started, particularly since Halloween was originally referred to as "All Hallows Eve" – the day before the Feast of All Saints’ Day. All of that aside, it’s become a day of jack-o-lanterns, ghouls, goblins, witches flying on brooms, ghosts, candy corn, and costume parties for adults. Everyone seems to be having fun.  

There are some children who will not be a part of any of those festivities: America’s homeless children.

With an estimate of 1.35 million children who will have experienced homelessness this year, I wonder how or why none of this nation’s elected leaders have actually gotten off of their collective butts and done something about it. I fail to understand how they can go through the pretense of caring about this nation and yet seemingly remain morally and emotionally anesthetized to the sufferings of this nation’s homeless children.

They seem to have to problem with creating all manner of legislation which caters to ear-mark expenditures (or as it’s also referred to: pork barrel spending) despite their promise to the American public that such spending would be cut back. It seems they lied. Ear-marks have continued. I also fail to understand how we, as a nation, continue to remain silent at such behavior from our elected leadership.

Tonight, as tens of millions of children visit their friends and neighbors with hopes of getting their favorites candies dropped into their Halloween bags, America’s homeless children will have most pressing needs. They will be denied the opportunity to be children. They will be standing in line with their parents hoping to be fed. There will be no festivities. They will be "processed" through the shelter system – assembly line style. The more fortunate of them will hopefully end up having a bed to sleep it tonight. The rest will find themselves sleeping in their parents’ vehicle. For those whose parents do not own a vehicle, they will find themselves laying down to sleep in a tent, a makeshift lean-to – or even out in the open, tucked away in some hidden nook and cranny of a local green belt of behind a building.

Most of the folks who have a place to call home, will not give a thought about those homeless children. Some of those folks aren’t even aware that this nation has homeless children. Their perceptions of the homeless are those of a small disheveled man, lying in an alleyway someplace, clutching a brown paper bag with a can of beer or "bottle of cheap wine" in it. It never occurs to them that the faces of homelessness aren’t vastly different than the images they have in their minds.

Even our nation’s elected leaders don’t seem phased by the numbers of homeless children. Of course, they have much more important things to worry about, don’t they? Things like: fretting over the status quo; worrying about how to get folks to donate money for their re-election campaigns; making sure that the press photographs them just right; or that they’re interviewed by the big name news anchors; and any number of other such nonsense.

The news media isn’t any better.

The only time they seem willing to report about homelessness, is if they can get good ratings out of it. The more salacious or sensationalistic the story, the better. Of course, it has to be. The concern of the networks and print news media is about getting the highest amount of money for each advertising spot. Subsequently, "human interest" stories seldom get much exposure, unless there is some celebrity involved.

And speaking of celebrities… they aren’t any better. They’ll take the American public’s money via record sales, movie sales and the sale of tickets to their events, but don’t really give back to the American public. They’re more concerned with the children of other nations. Those are the children that they are willing to advocate for; raise and make donations for. And, in the process completely ignore the children of this nation who are living below poverty level; children who are living in squalor and third world conditions.

I recall, as a youngster, the whole premise of Trick or Treat was this: if you didn’t receive a treat from whatever house whose doorbell you rang, you’d perform a "trick" on that house. It could be something as simple as breaking a raw egg on the walkway in front of the house, or draping toilet paper on their trees or bushes.

For America’s homeless children there will be no treats. For them, they will have been "tricked" on by the rest of society.

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