During a recent trip to Maine I heard someone referring to homeless people as undesirable. I agree the homeless situation is undesirable but homeless people themselves are not undesirable.
In view of this I would like to issue a challenge. The challenge is this: commit to living as a homeless person for seven days. Call us and let us arrange a bed, come live at the Mission for those seven days. Keep your job, but the rest of the time you live, eat, and survive as a homeless person. My belief is one or two out of one hundred that try this challenge, will make it seven days. Even if several people make it seven days it is not the same as what a homeless person lives with. Homeless people live with knowing that this undesirable condition may never end.
They live unsure of tomorrow’s meal, housing, clothing, and the luxury of bathing. They live a difficult existence. One that creates health issues and shortens their life span. My experience is that some of the homeless come from caring parents that are financially secure. Drugs and mental illness rob them of the promising future they once had. Even doctors and lawyers have lost all they had and are now homeless. They are certainly not undesirable.
A lack of understanding often is the basis of prejudices that develop labels like this one. However understanding does not erase reasonable expectations. Understanding does not excuse a behavior but should become a basis of assistance to overcome.
At Union Mission we believe no one set out to be bound by addiction. They did not get up one day and say, “I am going to become an addict or mentally ill.” But it did happen and on their part they must chose to overcome their addiction or take the medications that stabilize their mental illness. It is up to them, but it took years to lose all they had and it takes years to recover from the loss.
Compassion is the human response to the sufferings of others. Oxford dictionary defines compassion as, “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” All people deserve compassion whether homeless or not.
Rescue ministry is compassion in action in the face of this undesirable thing called homelessness.
George E. Batten