Thursday, February 28, 2013
Homelessness, A Tragedy
This is an interesting and thought provoking photo. Just looking at the photo how true do you think that poster is? In my experience it certainly seems true. I've lived and been in NYC plenty and been to many major cities in the US (Chicago, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Berkley, Ann Arbor, Houston, etc.) and there are homeless in all of them.
Obviously there are more in some places than others but they are there regardless of where you are and regardless of where you are people tend to have the same reaction to them. People are disgusted, or look down on them, some pity, and some empathize, but most commonly people just ignore them. Selective attention is a powerful thing and that seems to be exactly what people have when walking around these places that are literally littered with homeless.
I want to say its interesting that people behave this way but thats not the right word. It's saddening, depressing. It's extremely unsettling. It is more unsettling recognizing that I have done it very much in the past as well. How can it be anything but sad when a sign gets more attention than a person? And its not just any person but a person who is struggling in life and needs help.
Would you read the sign if a homeless person was holding it? If it was written on cardboard or a flimsy piece of paper held or worn by someone who looks disheveled and hungry? Probably not I'm guessing. I know that I haven't in the past. Sometimes I have the urge to read but never is it strong enough that I would actually pause or take time from my day to read it. And thats upsetting to say the least.
It becomes more upsetting knowing that I personally identify with many of the homeless youth who are out there. By pure luck I wasn't one of them. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that wouldn't kick me out of my home just because I am gay. I was lucky enough to have friends who were willing to house me if I needed etc.
So next time you see someone who is on the street, maybe pause and give them more of your attention that just a poster.