I think it was my freshman year in college and I was in my sociology class. My pothead of a professor was amazing in telling me so many things about the world and how people act. It opened up a new world of understanding. I used to just assume people had to be one thing and their train of thinking had to be like mine. It’s still a habit I have, but I don’t hold on to it.
One of the things that I started to understand more was homeless people. I am not a saint in any way when it comes to them. Sometimes I just walk by them because I have places to go or I just don’t want to talk. But other times I really have sympathy for them. Sometimes I offer them a dollar. Sometimes I give them the extra food that I have. I try to help but it’s hard sometimes.
I have met homeless people who just take what is given to them and spend it on booze or some kind of addiction. Other times I just don’t know if they are trying to improve themselves or not. But every case is different. Every person is different.
I think one reason why we as a society are afraid to approach them is the unknown. Is it safe to assume that all homeless people are actually homeless and not some kind of person pretending for easy money? What about the money we do give and if it actually does go to good use? (We can always just buy them the food instead of just giving them money. But sometimes, we don’t have time for that.)
It’s tough to understand what we don’t even have a grasp on. It’s just easier to avoid them.
But it’s important to remember that they are people too. Their situation could be completely their own fault. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t help them. Sometimes they were born into a bad situation. Doesn’t mean we still can’t have sympathy for them. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t offer our hand.
This isn’t a call to help every single homeless person we see because we can’t. This is a call for us to at least reconsider how we view them. It’s too easy to assume they are lazy and don’t want to improve. That’s not all of them. That’s not even most of them. It’s just part of the unfortunate situation they are in.
Instead, let’s remember that these people are people. Maybe we can’t help them find a home, but they could use that $5 more than we do. That homeless person at the exit ramp could use that leftover sandwich more than we do. Sure, it’s good to be safe and make sure they aren’t tricking us. But if that’s the first thought that comes to our mind when we see them, we’ve unfairly disregarded our fellow man.