Why do we make the homeless invisible?

Posted: February 28, 2011 in homelessness
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why does society reject, neglect and otherwise disavow – the homeless?

Why are the homeless the ‘Great Outcasts’ of our society and creatures which ‘normal’ citizens have nothing to do with?

And then, why do we ask, knowing the apparent answers to such questions… “Why?”

“Why are the homeless the products of our ‘Great Society’, and what can we do about it?”

Most of American society does not want to see or acknowledge the existence and/or plight of the homeless.In most people’s minds encounters in the park are to be avoided, as we do not want to have to ‘explain’ to our children as to “Why is that man over there carrying all that stuff?” (sleeping bags, etc.) “Why doesn’t he just leave it at home?”

Or, while sitting in the park, we don’t want to see the homeless person, when we are by ourselves sitting there enjoying our lunch on a park bench. And we don’t want to run into the homeless on the street or anywhere else, because they might be ‘panhandling’ for change or asking for a hand-out and such a confrontation makes us uncomfortable, feeling that we are being robbed of our last change for bus-fare or coffee at Starbucks. They’re such an inconvenience!

They remind us that there are the rich and that there are the poor and deep down inside ourselves, in our human conscientiousness, we have this uncomfortable feeling that there must be some fundamental wrong, or problem, with the system, when there exists a human society that cannot take care of its own desperate people.

Anyway, here in America, most Americans will just walk past a homeless person on the street and act as though he/she does not exist.

The Great Unseen People of America
For some strange reason, many foreigners, tourists, and visitors have no problem approaching and acknowledging the homeless. It might be that they have known such people in their own homeland and have more humanely accepted them into their society, something America, with its consumer and money-spending economy and society, is unwilling to do.

And yet part of the problem of the ‘unseen’ here in America, is also cultural and religious. “I made my way, my fortune, and they can too!” However, those facts and realities of life may be the illusive dream that never happens for the homeless person, as opposed to all of the breaks, opportunities, family trust funds and inheritances and other good-will advantages which the privileged individual has probably been the beneficiary of in this country.

In other words, in America, everyone just goes their own merry-way, superficially dealing with each other but not really knowing one another.

Sometimes, of course, people do reach out to others and it is a joy when they do. But, the religion-cultural aspect, here in America strongly implies that one’s personal and family responsibilities largely be kept separated from one’s economic responsibilities leaving our personal responsibilities in the hands of multitudes of third-party- representatives, whoever they may be; from your congressman, to your minister or priest, to the homeless shelter, and so on, all the way up to that greatest third-party-representative the Almighty Dollar Bill!

In other words, as long as such representatives exist, in all facets of American life, then we don’t have to be responsible. We have no direct, personal responsibility for our words, actions and deeds. We feel we no longer have to be our brother’s keeper as long as our ‘representatives’ are exercising our responsibilities for us!

We have been taught that the homeless – and all of the ‘disadvantaged’ – are a State problem, not a Church problem.
We can then attend our ‘clubhouses-of-worship’ with the knowledge that only such people as ourselves; those of us who have a home, a family, an income, a job, and everything else that defines the American Dream will be there, to worship and join with us, in our exclusive ‘clubhouses’, and that any ‘State-problem’ such as homelessness will not be seen there!

But Jesus told His followers to do something about the poor. “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13-14 NIV

And thus the American Churches should feel an obligation to do something. And yet some feel they have to contend with the importance of being a venue of worship, which, of course, in most cases, serve and benefit only its members!

But read what James wrote to the church of his time: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” James2:5 NIV

Unfortunately, ignoring the poor is an age old problem that seems to continually plague humanity:
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Ezek. 16:49

But now let’s get back to our homeless problem. (Which the State apparently, cannot do anything about!) The homeless need us! They need us to reintegrate them into our society! They need us to help them find their way. And their own way should be determined exclusively by the individual. Not the way or path that we, or others in society, think is the solution, to any and all problems of the homeless.

Why the homeless problem won’t go away.
The homeless problem won’t go away because the problem is a result of our own system – of our attitudes, of our discrimination, of our economics and greed and of our prejudices that keeps us from doing anything.

However, with God, we can go out on the streets, we can find, and nurture, and actually help the homeless of America …
If… we are willing to dedicate ourselves to eliminating homelessness!
To find, and to really know another person can be a joy! And especially, if that other person is a homeless person.
One can almost say that one has found another member of one’s long lost family. Because we are, all of us, the Family of the Human Race!

So let’s work to bring all of us together in peace, harmony, and love. Let us keep the mindset that we truly are our brother’s keeper. Each and every one of us!

  1. Domingo Castro says:

    I am with you for the nice words you given for the homeless in our society.
    I want to know what is actually being done for the homeless today and how can I get involved with this crisis. I need encouragement and help to take it in another level. Currently I am involved with a homeless advocate here in the State of WA, and desire to open a non-profit organization for the homeless. What is the possibility that I can meet with you and helping one another to take care of this problem? My family was homeless a few months ago. We have ask for some help and shelter, and we gotten some. But there was mostly neglect and you’re on your own mind set. I know the feeling of being homeless. Since I experience this, God spoke to my heart to be concern for the homeless. There will be a time when our society will realize What Jesus said “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” People will realize one day how important it is to give a helping hand. That time will come and perhaps is here that people are becaming desperate. We can see this now from our economy and increasing prices.
    People will be asking for help and I am not talking about the homeless but people who are will off in life. The agenda that the apostles have was not just to preach the gospel but also to take care of the poor. Be ready, be concern to help the poor and the homeless, because Jesus will judge us for what we did not do that we suppose to do.

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