Posted: February 10, 2009 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Hunger, Morality

Words are a medium of communication. They are used as a manner of conveying our thoughts and ideas. Even folks who cannot physically "vocalize" use some manner of signing and gesturing to "spell" words.  

At some point in history, human beings began using vocalizations as a means of identifying persons; places; things; actions, ideas and so on. By combining these sounds together, they were able to pass on information – which was useful particularly if they were trying to tell about something which had occurred out of eyesight of the other person.

As a blogger I like words. But, I have to admit there are times I wish that certain words didn’t exist. Or, more accurately, I wish that there wasn’t a need for specific words.

One such word is: homeless.

It’s made up of two other words – home and less. It therefore means "without a home."

To me, it would be so nice if there were no need for the word. And, as far as I’m concerned, it would be a good thing if every man, woman and child in our nation had a roof over their head every night.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. As a result, there will be millions of our fellow citizens who will experience homelessness this year. Hundreds of thousands of them will lack shelter and be exposed to the weather tonight. And from what I’ve seen on the Weather Channel, there are quite a number of places around the country which are experiencing some extremely cold temperatures.

A percentage of the homeless will go to sleep hungry tonight. Some will even have gone with a meal for a couple of days. If they’re lucky, they might eat tomorrow. However, that will depend on which city they live.

Over the last several months, I’ve read news articles about some cities and towns which have passed local ordinances to prohibit non-profit groups from feeding the homeless in public areas. Officials in those towns claim that the ordinances have been enacted for reasons of "public safety." Of course, that’s what they have to say in order to cover their own behinds. It wouldn’t look good on the evening news if they were to admit that they were using legislation as a method of harassing the homeless with the hopes of driving them out of town.

Some homeless may not survive the night.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen numerous news reports of homeless persons dying from exposure. In addition, I’ve seen quite a number of articles which point to an increase of hate crimes against the homeless. In several instances, they have being killed in some of the most horrendous manners.

There is another word I wish there were no need for: apathy.

Sadly, so many in the mainstream of society view the homeless through apathetic eyes.

We see the homeless as they trudge along on the streets of our cities but we’ve become quite adept at averting our gaze. We’ve taught ourselves how to see past them – as though they didn’t even exist. We’ve become experts at ignoring them. We’ve convinced ourselves that someone else will come along and help. We acquit ourselves of our indifference by accusing them all of being drunkards, drug addicts, derelicts, social leeches, and other such stereotypes. Some of us have even learned how to be perpetually angry and hostile toward them.

There is one general consensus: no one really wants homeless people in their town. However, the only effective method of ending homelessness is to find ways of helping them become housed. That is the only true solution.

It occurs to me that if we were somehow able to cure ourselves of our apathy, we might be able to see the homeless for what they are: folks who need our assistance – and our compassion.

Homeless. Apathy.

Yes, it sure would be nice if they became obsolete and there were no need for either word.

  1. Jason says:

    I have two more words to add to your list of words that should we should try to make obsolete. Hate and greed. Good article. One of your best. Keep up the good work.

  2. Skye says:

    Words we NEED are “How can I help?”

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