Dirty, unclean, criminal, lazy, drug user, alcoholic, and maladjusted, these are words that are used to describe our homeless population. You ask, how would I know? As a young cop, these were words that I spoke about those that live on the streets of our communities. Each of those words are a direct reflection of how an uneducated populous would label those unfortunate people.
In my younger days, I did not know God or really care to. So when I categorized all of the homeless people into those subsections, I was being a racist. I discriminated against those people. Those words I spoke, were out of an ignorant man. Ignorant in the fact that I got my opinion about the homeless population from others that were as bad as I in labeling that live in a cardboard house, or under the bridge.
If I had known the Lord in those days, I would have realized exactly what I was doing. The bible has a scripture that demonstrates just what I was doing. In Matthew 25 verse 45 it says: 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ This makes a very good fact check. By my uncaring, and uneducated mind I thought that all homeless people did fit into one or all of those categories.
You see the people that lived under our bridges were actually smarter than I. In this scripture, Jesus is simply stating that there is nobody that is beneath us. There are some Christian and non- Christian alike that will take exception to that belief that they are no better than someone that is homeless.
Of those that will argue that those on the streets are poor, destitute, vagrants, dispossessed, or adrift are plain ignorant of the actual facts. You see we all want to think that way, so we can put in them in that column of undesirables . That way we can easily dismiss them from our society and our thoughts.
What we are doing is making this growing population of homeless men, women, and children totally and maliciously invisible to our prying eyes. Little do we know just how many of us are two to three paychecks away from joining those poor souls. Yes, you and I could easily become a part of those that live on the streets.
We are all guilty of making a snide remark when we see someone standing on a street corner with a homeless sign. Everybody, has just made these people the forgotten few. Our society actually treats the homeless worse than those incarcerated in our prisons. At least the inmates get three square meals, have access to medical and dental care. Our prisoners have a roof over their heads. They have shelter from the elements.
What do our homeless people get? I will tell you what they get. We shun them, ignore them, forget them, harass them, incarcerate them, make jokes at their expense, and most of all we belittle them. You can clearly see, that we certainly treat our homeless with more compassion that those in prison for rape, murder or sex abuse. Let me revisit that, no what we do to our homeless is treat them like an outcast of society, the slugs of the human race.
Where do we get that power? Is it guaranteed under the Constitution or Bill of Rights, I don’t think so. We get it through a lack of knowledge, from stereotyping, profiling, or labeling. When will we as a society start to truly work on issues including homelessness? Our country sets aside more and more money to incarcerate people, but when do we start to follow the example Jesus set for us? We will do so, when this country gets back on sound moral footing. We will do so, when our politicians take the homeless situation as an epidemic. An epidemic that continues to grow just like this nations deficit.
Jesus said ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Let us all remember, that one day we will stand before God, and he may very well say you passed by a street person in need, and you did nothing. Try to answer that one.