The humanity of homlessness


A homeless woman sits on the ground in D.C. She greeted and encouraged students to enjoy the city as they walked by on the way to the monuments. Photo by: John Sanchez

John Sanchez, Photo Editor

   The definition of humanity is the human race; human beings collectively. In this world, there are the homeless and then the homeless by design that society creates. These people have become the invisible population in our communities and cities. Can you remember what the last homeless person you saw looked like? Do you remember the color of their hair? The feeling in their eyes? Can you even remember if you acknowledged that someone was there or not? You may not. You might remember, though, that they were dirty. Their face was covered in filth. They were huddled around a fire together. 

   We can forget these people because we put what we see on the surface above anything else. Just because they don’t have our clean clothes or our financial stability we can not put our value above theirs. These people can be anyone. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, veterans, friends and family. I do not think anyone plans to be homeless.  Losing one thing can lead to losing everything. 

   Imagine this. You lose your transportation to work and now you have to find a new way to travel. You are in financial trouble. You lose your utilities. You show up to work and barely have enough money to buy lunch. After a while, people don’t want you around anymore because you smell and your clothes are dirty because your water got cut off. Then you get fired. You have no money to live in your home, so you are forced to go on the streets. Many people say that the homeless should just go out and get a job and work for their money and are criticized if they don’t. The thing many people don’t realize is that it is not that easy. It’s not super attractive when you apply for a job and walk in with dirty clothes that might be the only ones you have. How awesome will it look when you have no address to give or place to call your home?

   I had the pleasure of talking to the lady in the picture above for a few moments while I was in D.C. Our Publications class was walking by and she did not ask for a single thing. She simply said good morning and to have a good time enjoying the city. I asked her how she was doing and how she felt being out on the streets. She said that she is grateful for where she is and prefers to help others rather than ask for help. She said she gets the most joy and fulfillment when she sees that even where she is at she can still make others happy and see the smiles of the people she greets and gives directions to.

   We can so easily take advantage of what we have. We know how cold it gets in the winter. The homeless sure do. Many of us get to go to our homes and be protected from the wind and have warm air flowing around us. The people out there don’t have any of that. While you can be at home warm and watching T.V., they can be frantically walking around the roads and cities for somewhere to survive the night or for someone to give them help. All of these individuals are real, living people. Remember the definition of humanity? It is human beings collectively. Not just the rich. Not just the middle class. Not just the ones who have homes. It’s every single person. No exclusions. In order to progress as a community, we have to break the stereotypes of homelessness and make these invisible people visible again. We are all guilty of contributing to the issue of homelessness by design, including myself. I want to get more and more into how to help contribute to the other side. All it takes is a few people to help someone get back on track. When you look at homelessness as a general issue it can be very intimidating and feel impossible to solve. I believe that one of the most effective ways to help is to just go one person at a time. If you don’t have money or supplies to give, then try giving your words. Sit down and talk to someone who doesn’t have a home and listen to their stories and needs and help in the way you think you can best.  Homelessness isn’t an impossible puzzle to solve. We can do it. All of us together. One person at a time.