When I was young, I remember wondering, “How do people become homeless? Why won’t anyone let them stay in their home? Where are their parents and relatives?” I was flabbergasted. I could not wrap my head around the idea that some people don’t have a home, don’t have families to care for them.
As I grew older, I stopped asking questions and accepted homelessness as something that just was. It didn’t cease to bother me, but as one person, I felt powerless to change it.
Now that I have my own children, I hear the same questions come out of their mouths that I used to wonder: “Mama,” my son Oliver says, incredulous. “How come they don’t have a home? Can we take them home with us? Where will they sleep tonight?” He, too, is flabbergasted, confused. He cannot understand how this can be. And the truth is, it’s still hard for me to understand.
It is easier to throw up our hands and say there is nothing we can do to change it.
But the question persists: In a country with so much wealth, how can we let some of our fellow humans suffer in the cold, alone, without a home?
There are always homeless people standing with signs at the end of the highway ramp near our home, and every time we pass, we give them money. Some people believe giving homeless people money perpetuates the problem, enables homelessness. They say, “They need to get a job like me. If we give them money, they will just buy alcohol and drugs.”
But I want to teach my children a different lesson. I want to teach them about compassion. I want to teach them about their own humanity. I want to teach them to give without worrying about what will happen to the gift. I want to teach them to see these people, to see that we all are all in this life together. I want to teach them that they are not powerless. They can do something.
We all struggle. I know plenty of people who medicate themselves with alcohol and drugs. Just because they do it in the confines of their own home doesn’t mean they are any better or more deserving of warmth, food, shelter, and love.
So, as a writer, I’ve figured out something that I can do–I can help make them visible–not just on the off-ramp of a highway or on a street corner–but in people’s hearts. And I can do this by sharing their stories and amplifying their voices and hearts.
I have set out to meet and interview people who are marginalized by our society, who are voiceless, who are invisible. I want to highlight their stories and voices so they are seen and heard. Here are their stories: https://www.facebook.com/pages/HumanizeYou/1494701757460177
We are not powerless. We all can do something to help. We all have gifts to give. The question is, what can you do to make a difference?