- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Strengthening Families
- Developing Positive Youth!
- Ending Homelessness
- Building Successful Communities
December 28, 2016 | by admin
Averting our eyes from human tragedy is a natural instinct. We try to never make eye contact, because we're never sure how to react. There is a part of us that is glad that we're not in similar circumstances. Part of us may feel disdain because we're drawn into this blatant public display of need and "failure." We think, "Should I give him the quarter or not?" Mostly, we just want to get away from it. That's natural, and it doesn't make you a monster or a villain or without compassion. It's just hard to bear witness to a tragedy that we don't understand. How did they get there? Was it the drugs or the drinking? Didn't they try hard enough in school? Are they just lazy bumbs that would rather beg than work? And does it really matter? "They're there because they want to be there." And if that's the case, I have no reason to feel anything at all. You make your bed and you lay in it.
I totally get that. But, those speculations are generally not true at all. Most don't plan to end up homeless. Most don't plan to fail. Most don't choose drinking and drugs over a good job, close friends and family, and a warm bed in a secure home. Every story is different. But, the bottom line is that nothing in the world is made better because people are sleeping on the streets. It is a personal human tragedy no matter how they got there. Humans weren't meant to sleep outside without shelter. We're too frail. We get sick, and we die relatively quickly. And it is a state in which we are probably our least productive. You can't work. You can't take care of yourself. You can't benefit the lives of those you love. You just survive.
It's a societal tragedy because it costs us - a lot. On the human level, we're all robbed of the natural gifts, talents, love, support, and hope that we need to sustain us as a human race through other lives that are whole, productive, and healthy. On the financial side, we spend tons of money every year in emergency medical services, policing, and public works on the homeless. A Univeristy of California, Berkeley study found that society spends three times (3X) as much on an unsheltered homeless person as the expense to house them with all of the supportive services that they need to live more stable and productive lives.
We should spend more time thinking about that. Then, we can ask ourselves if the human and societal costs are really worth inaction or indifference. After that, let's start working on a plan.