. . .Would Someone Please Help Me!
The homeless come in all ages, colors, faces . . .
a look at a few homeless and their places in life
I know. They are there. Day and night. So shamed they live out of sight. What would "we" do if we were they?
Struggle for life, and cry out lives away.
The homeless, contrary to society's assumptions, are not a 'problem' as most evening newscasters (dressed in three-thousand-dollar suits) say, but the homless are people. People who once walked with us, the productive. The civil-toned. And mannerable. Who knows why they are there in our gutters, urine-soaked alleyways. But they are there. And that, friends, is a situation that we cannot rationalize. Ignore. Or simply close out eyes in sleep and 'believe' them away.
I simply can't write this story. Honest to God above. It's way too personal. Way too close to home. And the heart. But, in my load of deserved-guilt for not helping my brother in need, I have to do something. I can't sit idly by and see one more person freeze or starve to death in front of my eyes that do not want to see how harsh the homeless people have it in my country.
This is harsh. Raw. Dirty and unnerving. I wish this were a Disney story. A nice, sweet-smelling essay about peaceful meadows, fluttering Monarch butterflies and pretty lasses in summer dresses, but alas, dear society, dear purposely-blinded society, this is a slice of real life. The real life photo that we choose to ignore, because we have our ready-made, built-in excuses.
"That homeless man drank himself to ruin." "That homeless woman had numerous affairs." "Ahhh, pastor 'Tom,' what to do about the homeless." "Oh, we can ask God to help them. Our church budget cannot afford such expenditures." With those opaque, obscure reasons intact, we turn back the comfy covers and sleep a sleep unhindered by the men and women whose warmth is a steam outlet on some deserted street corner. Or whose home is a new refrigerator box. No, as long as 'we' are comfortable. Clean. Without burden of helping someone besides a friend, we are A-OK. Super-duper. Walking with our civil heads held high, even if it means stepping over a sleeping wino who has drank his last fifth of cherry wine to just get him through the night.
That's fine. He's that way of his on choosing. Not ours. So our routined lives go on. Without as much as a, "may I help you, brother?" or a "here, get yourself a hot meal." That would not be acceptable to our social circle. No, sir. We've worked and toiled way too much to blow our station in life now. No. We must maintain our image. Image is everything, you know.
Countless tons of newsprint have been spent on the plight of the homeless, which now is not just an area of isolation, but a country-wide situation. Papers like The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and more have devoted story after story to get people (like me) to just be aware of the homeless. Not to move in with them. What were these newspapers thinking? Me? An American citizen actually caring about a stranger. And give credit to CNN, FOX News, CBS, ABC, CBS, and even Pat Roberson's 700 Club, like 'em or not, these networks have all but exhausted the noun: homeless. And the verb: help.
Do you share my opinion, that you and I didn't cause these people to be homeless? Be honest. Do not insult what sense I do have. Sure you think that. And we both are right. We didn't cause these poor shells of human beings to be homeless. But someone. Or something did. Maybe it was a company being out-sourced to China. Or maybe a small business going bankrupt. Could be that the homeless man laying at our feet was once a minister. A minister? Yes, even servants of God Almighty are not immune to life's harsh blows. And some non-violent people do not know how to fight back when life wields them a blow to the chin. They simply cave-in. Fall down. And are soon forgotten. In the filthy fog that serves as their covers on a winter's night.
I could sit here all day. And night. Telling all that I know about homeless people. Time was, homeless people, like drive-by shootings, to us in our small town of Hamilton, Alabama, that resembles Andy Griffith's Mayberry, was something that happened in a big city, say, Birmingham, Alabama a scant two hours away. But even in Hamilton, like Birmingham, we have homeless people--struggling to just live one more day. And see the light of the sun with their once-loving family who have now thrown them out like yesterday's trash. I told you this was raw. So is the homeless lifestyle--living in boxes, sleeping on streets, park benches, and even on the steps of a church. God help us. On the steps of a church, when the church members should be there with them on the steps ministering to them.
Awww, whoever said that "love one another," meant anything? That was for people 2000 years ago when Christ walked the earth. Things have changed since His time. You sure nailed that, buddy. I humbly disagree to a point. No, things, like Jesus' pointed command, "ye shall love one another," hasn't changed. We changed. From people once with hearts, to people in love with prosperity, property and pride. That's all.
I said all of this to say one thing: "I am guilty. Guilty as the darkest sin before God." I never realized how guilty I was of not lending what help I could give to our homeless, until I saw an ad on one of our Birmingham, Alabama television stations last week. The ad was from the Jimmie Hale Mission, located in Birmingham. And wouldn't you know it. The mission was actually, without apology, or concern for "my" feelings, asking for monetary help to feed a few homeless people since the mission itself does not depend on state or federal funding.
I didn't sleep well the night I saw the ad on television. Nor have I slept well in the nights following the viewing of the ad. And that's a good thing. I needed a push. A wake-up call. Something to get my attention. And the ad did just that. Got my attention.
I am tired of running. Hiding. Ignoring and looking past the homeless. I am, and this is NOT self-promoting, going to start doing something each month for my brothers and sisters in the street. No, I couldn't care less if they are there by choice or not. All I know is that they are there. Suffering. Starving. And needing my help.
Call it conscience eating at me. Or call it God speaking to me of how selfish and greedy I have been.
Either way. It worked.