I See You, Why don't You See Me?

I'm alot like you

Some of my most desperate times have isolated me. The average person finds it uncomfortable in the acknowledgement of pain in those they know, much less those they don't. Our society is hyperactive. Those not moving fast enough, must either get out of the way or be buried under the dust kicked up by those in their frantic race to the top. A personal misstep on the ladder up, leaves a person struggling to regain balance and can begin a downward spiral leaving them too beaten to contemplate extricating themselves. Attitude, past experience, physical and mental health all play into the complicated equation of resilience. It is easy for those with resources, family, health and relative success to develop callousness toward those that are down on the totem pole.

The economy today has changed the climate toward homelessness. In the past, it has been regarded as less circumstantial with judgements of laziness, slacking, no ambition, stupid, crazy, loser. Since the recession, it is spoken of in different terms with a generalized fear. Today's employed have no guarantee that they will enjoy that status tomorrow. "That could be me" makes it a different story, the possibility of a personal story. The working population, some of which had developed a blind eye towards the homeless, now has eyes wild open. The fortunate are seeing family, friends, high powered executives to the blue collared workers, affected by the economic plunge. Many of the now unemployed, accustomed to living at a level at or above their former income, are now on the unemployment dole, trying to learn to scrounge the next meal for themselves and their families. Health care, once expected and paid for through their job, is now a luxury. Homes in foreclosure, bankruptcy, the inability to acquire credit is humbling.and dehumanizing. With unemployment rates at anywhere from 9 to 12%, life has changed for all of us. If not yet living the life of someone who has lost nearly everything, it is impossible not to consider it. You could be next. Sitting from that vantage point makes homelessness upfront and personal, no longer invisible.

How does it feel?

There but for the grace of God, go I

During all the years I was employed, I never lost sight of the fact, I was lucky. Especially, while employed at a family-owned company in downtown St. Louis, where my window on the world exposed me daily to the plight of the homeless, I became acutely aware of the overt distaste the general public has for this particular group of unfortunates. I was chastised by some coworkers for associating with the regulars whose trek brought them in my field of vision daily, when I would sometimes share a smoke, small handouts, brief conversations on short breaks in my workday. Some tapped on the window, waving, saying hello, acknowledging me. Accustomed to being either ignored, invisible, shunned, brushed off or cursed, they were pleased to be viewed as fellow members of the human race, Their faces expressed gratitude for something rare in their difficult lives, civility. I still think of the group, wonder how they are doing, each with a different story to tell, all of them afraid of the shelters. Many trudged with all their worldly goods on their backs, in the summer, sweltering beneath their clothing, in the winter, not enough to keep them warm...they walked. Through necessity, they all exemplified a spirit of independence, resilience over extraordinary circumstances and a will to go on. Most were short on hope, deterred by alcoholism, drug addiction, physical or mental illness. Some were dangerous, ex-convicts, paranoid schizophrenics, with many using theft or other methods of deception as a means to survival.

I subscribe to upholding the law and live accordingly. I do not believe the ends justifies the means. However, I am aware of too many incidents of violence, lawlessness and inhumanity perpetrated by those who took an oath to "protect and serve" and, as a result, I fear law enforcement far more than with the homeless I have encountered.

Police in action

Homeless man dies from beating over a can of beer

More questions than answers

  • Who are you more afraid of, law enforcement or the homeless?
  • What laws could make humanity more humane?
  • Why do we need the legal system to enforce civility toward each other?
  • What is wrong with this picture?
  • How did we get this way?
  • Can things change?
  • What, when, how?

As the economy has fallen, so too, do the dominoes and anarchy appears less an improbability. With joblessness affecting all portions of society, plant closings forever and a sense of desperation fueled by hopelessness, life for everyone is more perilous. The right to bear arms bodes for disaster as more are affected by lack of the bare necessities, food, and shelter. The local news shows an increase in violence, bank robberies and home invasions. Hunger is a powerful motivator. For many, their only reprieve is alcohol or drugs, adding fuel to the fire. As states struggle with their financial deficits, there have been budget cuts resulting in decreases in the numbers serving our police, fire and rescue departments. The questions are many, answers few.

I pray for relief for everyone. And so it goes..

34 comments

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I loved this! I really did.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

That makes me very happy, Mr. Happy! Thank you for reading and commenting on it.


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

This is a wonderful way of pointing out we are All one paycheck away from poverty, as a Social Worker I know this to be all too painfully true. Very nice write and very nice hub. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thank you, BobbiRant. I enjoyed your hub regarding "the witch" today. I think you are spot on. The only substance that surprises me is some defense of her. Palin, although Hollywood, has become a laughing stock. I would think anyone she endorses would be suspect. The stakes are high, though. Our country is in trouble and I sincerely hope desperation for change does not overrule prudence.


HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Excellent Hub Amy. Times are very hard. I was layed off from a major financial services firm almost 3 years ago. It's been a very slow go looking for new employment but I keep plugging. Luckily I have a lot of money saved which is not true of most of the unemployed. Also it won't last forever. All you can do is keep a strong attitude which I strive to do everyday. I hate hearing many Republicans saying that unemployment is keeping people from looking for jobs or that food stamps keep people poor. What hateful planet are they from? All I can say to anyone unemployed is to hang in there and stay positive. Thanks for your much needed article.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Thank you very much! I appreciate your comments and the truth that someone, obviously very intelligent with a good heart like you, can be a victim of the economy also. It illustrates the fact that the unemployed are not lazy losers that simply want to live on the dole. You have an important message for the masses who believe otherwise. Thank you!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

..woweeeeeeeeeee ..... Like a Rolling Stone with SUBTITLES - that is worth the price of admission - alone!!! But more importantly these pages of Hub has gained a phenomenal writer here .....who can write like nobody's business - but the pleasure here is it should be everyone's business ......


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

I bow before thee, Epigramman. I wish I had the brain to figure out the lingo to better promote my hubs. I am in awe of business sense, because although I can write, the logistics of promotion elude me...as I read about adsense, backlinks, etc. my head spins, so I'll just keep writing. Thank you again for taking the time to stop and read and leave comments that leave me reeling! I was ready to give it up.


shynsly profile image

shynsly 6 years ago from Sierra Vista, AZ

Very well said. Like many others, I've had times in my life when I was "doing better", and during those times, you're right; it can be easy to become caloused towards those less fortunate. I don't believe more government intervention or legislation is the answer, but I do sincerely hope if and when we collectively manage to turn this mess around, and people begin to prosper en masse again, we (including myself) will have a slightly kinder heart towards others.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

I have met no one like you on the hub. Your dead on honesty and intellect can be intimidating. I started your latest, "The Internet Conundrum" and got waylaid re-reading James Watkins immigration piece. I've spent an hour there checking out your reference to an uninformed commenter. I think it will take me a week to sort through the dialogue responding to each other as well as James. I appreciate your attention and your astute commentary.


shynsly profile image

shynsly 6 years ago from Sierra Vista, AZ

aww schucks (face now as red as hair). Like I said, wasn't trying to bust any one out specifically, but I love to read the various conversations that take place back and forth under the more... "spirited"... hubs, couldn't help but notice that one.

On the plus side, reading all those comments is what keeps leading me to other interesting articles written by other interesting people (such as yourself).


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

That's why I know are a first-rate intellect...you don't have to be led by the nose. You figure things out on your own...an independent. Very admirable traits...By the way, your baby is absolutely adorably adorable!


erthfrend profile image

erthfrend 5 years ago from Florida

Your words are so very true. People should never judge and feel they are better than someone else because like you said, you never know when the tables will be turned. We need alot more respect in this world, respect for ourselves, eachother, the earth, the animals..our world. Instead of focusing on the "things" we have, we should focus on what we can do to bring a smile to someone's face, what we can do for someone else.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Dear erthfrend, This piece has nothing to say that you don't already live by. Thank you for your kindness, your open and loving heart and your compassion for all living things. You are a shining example of the best of humanity.


BrainFire profile image

BrainFire 5 years ago from The Island

And then we have the female warriors like me...lol. Sword and shield ready to go to battle. In a metaphoric, mathematical sorta way. Let's get technical! :)

Great hub, and way with words...you have my friend. I look up to people who can spit it out well, and make sense. You do a fine job of it here for sure. We are definitely on the same page, in the same book. Kindred spirits are migrating to each other, and a massive change is happening to all of us right now. We are now Linking arms together, until we span around the globe and cover the planet, and protect Earth, and us...I will not rest until this is done. Thankfully it's happening very quietly, and right on schedule. It's the women bringing all of us into a new era, as the pendulum has now swung the opposite direction...naturally, and by demand. We will usher in a new world together, and this time we will stay linked together as a people. Because of you and me, and all who we pick up along the way. Just like a snow ball rolling down hill, getting bigger and bigger. Love grows rapidly, and is the strongest power of all...The power the people have had the whole time...The awakening has occurred, and we have arrived at our final destination of humanity. Smile your way through this, and know that each person you encounter has Love in their heart, unlock it for them, and bring them with us. Wake'em up...crash some pots and pans or something...lol

May all the Love I'm sending out reach you, and settle in your heart to awaken you too:) It's the right path for humanity as a whole. This is fact, not just opinion.

Thank you for writing this, it's needs to be in the front line for people to see, and be able to act accordingly.

Love and hugs to all!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Brainfire, YOU ARE ON FIRE!!! You are quite the powerhouse. It sure sounds like you are feeling well. That is my first step. I am going to take in everything in your hubs about getting that right. Without it, everything feels so monumental, and becomes overwhelming. Thank you for visiting here, brainfire. I appreciate your dynamite, electifying words!


BrainFire profile image

BrainFire 5 years ago from The Island

LOL...thanks Amy, I think I see smoke... After re reading what I wrote, you may be right. I'm laughing because this stuff flows out of me on auto pilot. I did not prepare, or think before I wrote it. Most of what comes out of me is free flowing and natural. Some times when I go back and read it again...I think to myself...I wrote that?! LOL

I don't actually think before I write. It's more like data flowing that has been stored for a lengthy period of time. I'm in a major rush to get this out. Hence the autopilot status. With my main motivator being LOVE. Thank you for identifying my electricity, I have actually been called this too many times to count. You bet I'm on fire, we have a planet and people to save here! I'm not stopping no matter what:)


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

I understand completely as I, too, don't pre-plan passion. I got results of my latest Vitamin D levels and despite 50,000 units once a month, I am low. I now have to take 50,000 units once a week. Which brings me the point where I am going to your hub to write down what I need to be taking. I've added CoQ10 already. I think with balance, I may better absorb what I'm taking. B-12 injections will require a trip to my internist as the bone & mineral doc wouldn't want to make my life any easier. After all, it's all about the co-pay! See there, Brainfire, I'm getting all fired up!

No need to explain about passion. I understand and appreciate your sincerity. I hope you are feeling better, my friend.


BrainFire profile image

BrainFire 5 years ago from The Island

That is really startling to hear. I expect to be deficient in D as well. Hence the reason for doing more blood work this week. I am anxiously awaiting the results. I do expect to be deficient now in quite a few things. Once I have the math, I will be able to report back my findings. I'm excited about getting this information because it reinforces what I have been saying for 30 years now!

It's the proof the nutrition industry needs to advance to where we need to be. Thank you for the kind words, and support! Right back at ya!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

It is so strange to me, brainfire, that despite more sun exposure than I should get, I am so "D" deficient. I have osteoporosis as a result and have had since young adulthood. I took Forteo injections for a year at which time I got very ill. Coincidence says the doctor! I think it kicked up my autoimmune disease and I have been on Pentasa ever since. I have low IgA, a immune component of the gut. That cannot be altered according to the doctor, but it contributes to my problem. I wonder with your propensity for "food poisoning" if you are not similar and have some genetically induced low gut immunology issues. The doctor ran a test on my intrinsic factor (genetics again) as my grandmother had pernicious anemia, but they said it is intact. I believe it depends on who runs the lab work and who reads the results. I've lost my faith in the medical establishment. Pardon my distaste, but I'm being honest in saying it's about the finances, not the condition of the patient, first and foremost. Feel free to email me privately if you prefer, brainfire.


BrainFire profile image

BrainFire 5 years ago from The Island

I studied pernicious anemia, and have read many cases that lived with it, through all the misdiagnosis. These types of cases are hard to identify, and they do not routinely check for uncommon things. There is more unknown, than known with the medical industry. I am waiting for the blood results to be faxed to me as we speak.

I'll be back to visit soon, we'll troubleshoot together, and conquer these nuisances once and for all. Smiles:)


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

I'm so glad I have you on my side. I feel like I actually have a chance of figuring things out now. Go kick ass, brainfire!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Amy - you are dynamite. I am so proud you are a sister from St. Louis! I am in complete agreeance - I was thinking about writing a hub about Hopeville - I went down there a month ago - they chased me! LOL Amy - I would love to hear what your thoughts are on that camp! Have you been down there? If you haven't do not go!! It's dangerous!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Dear Real, You are amazing and we must be sisters in a parallel universe. I just finishing reading a dynamic short piece in the RFT about a homeless photographer who was given a camera by a Buddhist organization that helps the homeless. The photographers name is Robert Boettcher, who documented the homeless and became an award winner for his up close and personal photos of the homeless. He is in jail now awaiting trial for the murder of a man who lived in Hopeville. I was under the impression that the tent city was torn down due to this murder? The RFT states that there is a showing of these photos in an exhibit today at Subterranean Books at 6275 Delmar Blvd in University City. And, no, I've never been there, but have seen some shots of it on the local news. The homeless are treated very poorly in STL. And, I imagine there will be many more as the state of joblessness continues. Thanks for checking this out, my friend with a big heart.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Yes - I did read they were shutting it down! I just haven't done enough research to completely understand exactly what is going on down there. I have some very interesting photographs. I have decided not to publish them as to protect their privacy. I have seen many videos and news clips. Very interesting. You know they were given those tents after being evicted from a tunnel under St. Louis? Reverend Larry Rice was deeply involved with Hooeville - then something changed.

Do you know where those people will go? It is my belief that most have a mental illness and are in great need of medical care and rehabilitation. They don't want it though - well I don't mean to go on and on - on your hub:). But I have been doing a bunch of research related ! I will be watching the news closely - I appreciate you so much!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

A mutual admiration society, then, Real, because I know few people that don't exhibit downright contempt for the homeless. The people I worked with were hostile with me when I had conversations with any of the homeless I'd visit while on Locust St at my workplace. I was on my own time on break!!! The homeless I talked with treated me far nicer than many of my well-to-do workmates. There was quite a "to-do" some time back a couple of summer's ago, when a community near downtown at a park, where all evicted along with the police throwing their legal meds in the dumpster. Some were diabetics or had meds for seizures. They dumped it all. I have no idea where they stay, because all of them I knew were afraid of the shelters. I am appalled at the attitude of the police and even the mayor. They present an inconvenience in their existence, it seems. They don't want to deal with them so they should just go away. Where? How hideous to not even be considered a person when homeless. And, yes, most of them are either damaged veterans or mentally ill. Does that mean they no longer matter? I know you feel great compassion, Real, I can't help but go there, because I'm frustrated by the lack of viable solutions. I use to drive by Ralson House on my way home and would see the homeless sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open. There was a sign on the front window at "dog" level stating "No Public Restrooms". I often wondered where those poor souls even used a bathroom.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am with you 100%,. Some of this people - damaged as they may be fought for our coutry - they are someone's son, daughter, father or mother. Who knows how they got to this point - but they need help. And we can't just keep sweeping them around the city. Look at all the empty buildings we have in St. Louis Amy - empty boarded up hospitals and such. They can't open one of these as a shelter? A home for these people - all those educated people can't figure something out?

Or is there something more important on the agenda? We have a huge problem - kids even - homeless. No one cares - they act like it's the kids fault too. Being born poor. Amy I feel you are a kindred spirit.

Don't let anyone make you feel bad because you speak to another human! No matter what the tag on their t shirt says! Oh I'd be talking to them too - for shizzle;). I would be seeing if there was one small thing - even polite conversation - would help them have a better day.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Right on, sis! You feel EXACTLY the same as I. In fact, many times the comments I'd hear from a homeless person made my day. I gained as much, if not more, than they did.


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Dear Amy, not only is your compassion inspiring and beautiful, the point you make about society turning its back on those in need resulting in horrendous acts of brutality is spot on.

It can be done by mathematics, but math only works correctly when the correct factors are put into the equation. I have heard many people who draw social security, military retirements, and government paychecks complain about those who receive entitlements apparently unaware that they also receive entitlements.

We bailed out banks that lost great amounts on foreclosed homes, but never gave a minute of consideration to paying down mortgages so people could keep their homes and prevent the bank from losing money. The banks, of course, turned around and held parties and gave bonuses with the money, while tens of thousands were thrown to the streets hoping to get a dole which might have been given to them in the form of helping them keep their homes. Many of these people lost ambition and hope that they might have retained with their homes, but we, as a society, deem them unworthy choosing rather to make the rich richer.

As we move forward with the blinded believing we can solve complex problems with simple solutions, I fear we have not seen the worst. It may come in the form of genocide, but I think there is a fair chance that we will merely imprison multitudes of people at the cost of $60,000 per year so we can save the stipend of $10,000 per year that might give them some hope and ambition.

Maybe the factors I have put into my equation are incorrect. Maybe people will lose the instinct to live and the natures to do what is necessary to ensure survival, and rise to the high principle of starving to death so the rich can get richer.

I doubt it, though.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Your ideas are where I'm coming from, Tom. I think we haven't hit bottom yet. Crime is rising incrementally with the desperation of long-term joblessness. And, despite the politically motivated job numbers, layoffs in St. Louis are still happening. Where politics are concerned, particularly in an election year, I believe none of what I hear, and less than half of what I see. Mostly, I feel each of us is on own.

Thank you for your thoughtful, well stated perceptions. I believe you are precisely on the mark.


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 4 years ago

Hi Amy!

This is a really good hub! You have made some great points and are really insightful! : ) I have really enjoyed this and I agree "grace of God, there I go". You keep on keeping on! My mom use to say.."Believe none of what you hear, half of what you see, and EVERYTHING you feel".

I hope you feel proud of yourself for the talent and gift you are here for the rest of us!

I will see what other writings you have written to help inspire me further! hugs! voted up and shared. :)


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Jo, your words are a delight to my eyes and my brain. Thank you so much for your encouragement!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Amy: Very interesting, informative and insightful article. Most of us are just one paycheck away from the streets and homelessness. Remember, only 1 % of the nation could continue to sustain themselves if they lost their jobs. The rest of us would end up like the homeless ones you write about here. Thank you for seeing the homeless and not allowing them to be invisible to you. You are a compassionate and empathetic person, Amy. More need to realize that "there but for the grace of God go I." I've had my share of ups and downs and I know I am very fortunate to have been able to retire when I did. I hope that things are getting better for you - life is tough for so many right now and as you say, they have a job today, but what about tomorrow? Life and our standard of living here in the U.S. is changing and not always for the better. Thanks for writing an excellent article that looks into how the other half lives and having compassion for them. I realize where the inspiration for your poetry comes from.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO Author

Oh, Suzette, life is scary. I feel like I can be real with you. I am in a position I never imagined I'd be in. I've worked all my life and always exceeded my employers expectations. Going above and beyond the call of duty was a matter of pride for me. Honestly, I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But, then, who does? I bought into the American Dream all my life, kept my nose to the grindstone and kept smiling, because I was grateful that I had security in my life. Now, without health insurance and an unpredictable autoimmune condition, I've gone from panicked, stressed and depressed to taking one day at a time. Hubpages and writing has been my saving grace. Thank you for listening, understanding and being a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me. Love from St. Lou to you.

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