The chart above is just one of the analyses on homelessness in the United States, produced by the federal government agency, HUD. There are other numerous ways these people are dissected. In the end, all of them speak to the condition of homelessness.
There are no governmental, nonprofit, or research organizations that have attempted to examine the fundamental cause of why people become homeless. There seems to be the fear of how overwhelming the issues may be, if they are uncovered. There seems to be the reservation of how much it will cost to accommodate the societal delinquents.
Without delving into the root of the problem, however, no program is destined to be effective for the beneficiaries.
If we know the reason, the remedy may not have to do with material resources at all. This post is to address that unexplored element. To do so, I offer a closer look at a governmental homeless shelter in New Jersey, which has been the place where I’ve dwelt since the mid-December of 2016. My own experience as well as my direct access to fellow homeless individuals should offer the insight that outsiders normally can’t and don’t catch.
Based on my experience, I’ve seen a fuller portrait of America represented at where I’ve been. I’ve come across the entire spectrum of age, class, ethnicity, race, and religion represented at my location. In terms of gender, there are definitely more men than women, which corresponds with the national statistics. The vast majority of homeless individuals, at least where I am, are cigarette-smokers.
Differentiating homeless people in various categories works against solving the problem. And, becoming a homeless is the last stage of relinquishing control over one’s life. Therefore, securing a dwelling place is the last thing that a homeless individual needs to regain the command of his or her life.
The United States is a country that consists of people of diverse origins and backgrounds, but with the same goal as anyone else, the American dream. Unfortunately, there is a segment of population, of a diverse background, who either have faltered or can’t fulfill such for whatever reasons. Finding the commonality among those individuals appears to be the best route to tackle the homelessness.
As I’ve spoken with a variety of fellow guests at the homeless shelter, I’ve detected a consistent cause among us. We have had difficulty with a boundary against others.
We live in a country where one can maximize his or her self-gains or profits at any cost. As this dominating economic principle has no boundary, each individual has to establish his or her border against others to guard himself or herself. That is a common sense among Americans. To succeed and to belong to the mainstream, one has to be vigilant about exploiting others but not reciprocating their kindness. That behavior is perfectly legal in the United States.
The recurrent fault of homeless individuals at where I am is that we’ve made an exception to this societal norm. With our loved ones or inner circle, we presumed the boundary was unnecessary. Most of us were unconditionally giving or trusting, but ended up being betrayed or let down by family members, friends, lovers, or entrusted authorities. However, many of us ended up being defenseless against what we had gone through.
Abusing oneself or others, falling into depression, relying on alcohol or drugs, becoming chronically homeless were the forms of reaction against how the reality went against what the homeless individuals thought this world should be. All of these measures were self-destructive. What I’d gathered was that those who employed such felt entitled to harm themselves at least in one point in life, as others with power already had.
What would be the proper remedy for these wounded souls?
The rational solution may be to indoctrinate them as to how the majority of Americans cope with the reality, especially for success. However, I predict such will be useless.
Why? Many of my fellow homeless individuals have big hearts. In spite of their experiences, these people are quite forgiving. They rather not conform to the inhumane way of living, if that choice is available. In the absence of such, they suffer the material consequences. Some of them do so repeatedly.
Among this circle, I found receptive ears as I shared my experience. It would have been so easy for me if I could hate those who betrayed me. Instead, I understood their mental weakness, even at my most trying moment in life.
Just like my fellow shelter guests, I was left alone to console my heart. It was apparent that God protected the weaklings more in the human world. I wondered what it meant for those of us who believed in God who did absolutely nothing for us.
A few days of meditation rendered the revelation. What many of us did was to create our individual haven in a tiny scale by defying the societal norm. And, none of us could sustain that realm on our own. Every one of them was shattered in the end.
If this world indeed went against the divine goal and methods, those who believe in God needed to seek to alter this orbit for all. The reason that we don’t extend that far has to do with the lack of faith in ourselves and the Almighty.
In the end, God had nothing to do with our predicament. It was entirely our fault. We didn’t have the conviction to begin with. And, we didn’t seek ideas, strength, and wisdom from God to dare the worthy goal. Instead, we either settled for less or gave up.
The quandary for the readers is as follows: Although you don’t suffer the material poverty like homeless individuals, you may have the same traits as we do, or think like we do. Unfortunately, if you don’t want to fall into the same trap as we do, you are advised to live your life on guard at all times.
You can’t be certain of your judgment about others. If our experience is any indication, you don’t possibly know them until you are confronted with the reality that tests your relationships. If you dare to give unconditionally to your inner circle like us, you can’t avoid the similar consequences, which happens more in later stage of your lives.
Your choice or preference of giving is arbitrary from the divine perspective. Therefore, you eventually pay the price for having committed self-indulgence filled with inequity and unfairness, like we do.
If that is the apparent path all of us are destined to walk, the question is whether you want to continue to conform to the societal rule that mandates mutual brutality from all of us, or to question the alternative that endorses humanity in our relationships with others at all times.