The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor…
There’s a point in malnutrition that your voice begins to fade, and you develop a sore throat from all the cold in the air. Skin begins to fade in color as well, hair becomes rather dingy and dry. This was how I could describe a man walking near Fred Meyer on Sunday afternoon. He was beyond depressed, wearing latex gloves and a mask to avoid becoming sick from the passer-byers. I could barely hear his words, and he was asking for any kind of help. Before he could tell his story, I handed him $50 and said “keep it.” Then he looked down at the crumpled note, and a tear trickled in his eyes. He mentioned that he had two kids who were living in his car with him since his home was taken from his family, with all their possessions, except what they could carry to his truck. In return he provided me a handshake with his bare hand, not underneath the gloves he was wearing, looked me in the eye and strongly said “thank you.”
When I had come to the conclusion of handing him my $50 that could be used for my vacation, I realized that what I had done was more worth a good deed than the wealth of feeling warmer in the frigid Norwegian climate. With that in mind, I must provide the honesty that I am well off, and very fortunate to have a roof over my head that will remain indefinite. I do not have a necessary responsibility to “fork over” my earned cash to the folk less fortunate than myself, but I do so because they are not lesser men or women. Simply because they live on the streets, does not make them dirty or “dusty people.” Just because us fortunate people litter on the streets without a care, does not mean that the folk we have also dumped onto the streets are trash too. I wonder just how often people turn a cheek to the poor as easily they would a simple garbled McDonald’s bag filled with a half-eaten burger and leftover fries. I wonder why we ignore pan handlers and shrug, telling ourselves “they can get a job if they want money.” Do we ever recall that we found a job in ease because we have an address, contact information, and proper identity? If anyone has never looked at a homeless person, and not even considered stopping to share human communication.. then I believe that one would be over privileged.
Believe me when I say that I am no Saint. I have walked past several people who are homeless and ignored them. I have said “I am sorry, I have nothing for you” when there are three crumpled dollars in my pocket that will be later used for a simple commodity as soda-pop. I have concluded within myself that they should seek out employment rather than stand in the streets. Sometimes I convince myself that they are fake panhandlers, who are just trying to make a cheap buck. Here in Lynnwood we have a very strange sense of personal isolation and a great tendency to be selfish. Very few neighborhoods will have group gatherings with their neighbors. I recall that when my housing complex was nearly finished, we had a celebration when the first few families moved in. They were great fun! After a year however, things fell into the same social hole that the Pacific Northwest suffers from. This isn’t my own personal observation either. A few friends who moved here from foreign lands, or somewhere as close as the Midwest have found a rather strange personal seclusion here. People, I do believe that the Seattle-Metropolitan area is an Asylum.
Then let me bring up this point: The jail systems in America, and even in Norway (where I am visiting) are friendlier to the inmates than most of us would believe – with the exception of “Maximum Security.” They provide homes, camaraderie,
television, food, and shelter. As tax payers we fund these systems of comfort to criminals. It makes me wonder just why the homeless don’t break a window or steal things simply to be arrested and convicted so they can *live* in *comfort.* Though I should mention that they will have the downside of having their asses kicked around by the security enforcers as well as other folks who cause trouble; it provides them a shelter with ample food. This cause for crime is actually a very bad idea for the victims – and there are no victimless crimes. (Unfortunate for some.) I merely bring up this jail reminder (or for some a recognition) because it is a rather moot point to be made. See, the selfish implication that many homeless will cause annoying crimes to be jailed at our great expense is rather bad for everyone but themselves. It is possible that with enough damage in the crime, they may force someone to lose their own home or job. (Over the long-run, not the short run unless say an attempt at petty arson becomes several destroyed apartments.)
I believe that we need to simply do more things to keep us from becoming bored too. Our great boredom is mostly attributed to the lack of jobs and opportunities to be given to folks all around the world. (This boredom can cause petty crime for thrills yo) Oh, but not only will it make the privileged less bored – it can cause a chance for job growth to be provided to the poor and less fortunate. Yet we can’t force the offer to help – because people sometimes do not wish to be helped at all. Part of my experience in Norway is learning that the government is willing to help homeless people, which now are mostly drug addicts who enjoy being addicts. So it is frowned upon by them (and I) to provide money to those in need who only need drugs by choice. Let us not forget the usual case in America is that not everyone who is homeless is a junkie. Even I would never trust a junkie.
Just let us become aware of ourselves, who we are, and who others are. Take the time to experience being homeless, live without all our prestige, and learn what they need. Everyone has needs, and the needs of others differ person to person. Try and reach out – live a little without the material obsession, without the Modern Appeal, and try to be ‘alive.’ Let us hear the cries of the poor, let us bless the poor with our kindness.