This blog is meant as a medium that I can use to get all the opinions and feelings about the world and life out into the open. I will blog about things that are fairly trivial, then blog about matters that are important in the grand scheme of things. I want to share my views on things that make me happy, but also on things that make me sad, angry, confused, etc.
The subject of homelessness brings a lot of sadness to my heart, but also some fond memories. When I was growing up in Frankfurt, Germany- a fairly big city- I spent quite a substantial amount of time with people who lived on the street. Some of them had chosen to live outside of society, but most had ended up there involuntarily. One thing that can be said for most of the homeless people I have met is that they were unable to live a 'normal' life, i.e. a life as a functioning member of society with a job, place to live, etc. The reason for this inability was of a psychological nature. There were some who had been badly abused their whole lives, some who had lost their job and fallen into a big hole of depression. Many had addiction issues or were in some way physically ill (e.g. one man had HIV and was unable to cope with the reactions he got from his surroundings) Whatever the reason for these people's life on the streets, it was usually not their choice. And they were nonetheless wonderful human beings.
Fast forward to my life now. In South Carolina, I keep encountering people who call themselves Christians, but who condemn homeless people and are unwilling to help them in any way. In a discussion with a lady some months ago, she tried to convince me of the fact that people who did not have a home were simply lazy. My counter to that was that if they are so lazy, and you can get so much money if you are on welfare (haha...), why don't they go and get that money? Her response: they are too lazy to go fill out the paperwork to apply for assistance. Really??? I asked if she believed that a person would rather sleep outside in the cold or heat or rain without food, etc. than fill out some paperwork? She does. I almost have no words for this point of view. And I had to avoid any further discussion with this lady on the topic.
I believe that we, as Christians (or as persons belonging to any religion, really- all major religions share the belief in compassion and love), should never try to judge another person's situation. We can never honestly say where we would be if our lives had taken a different turn. If we want to really do what Jesus wanted us to, we have to help the poor, regardless of the reason they ended up where they are.
In Germany, homelessness is a problem that could easily be eradicated if people made use of the social network. However, as I mentioned earlier, for different reasons they are unable to do so. Even if you provided a homeless person with a job, a fully furnished apartment, new clothes, food, etc., eventually, he or she will probably end up on the streets again because they do not know how to function within our society. Extensive therapy would probably help these people, but is very seldom available, nor do they seek help often.
In the US, the story is very different. How many of us would be in serious trouble if we lost our jobs? Or got very ill, having to pay enormous medical bills? There are countless scenarios I can picture in which a family could end up being without a roof over their heads. And it breaks my heart. All the foreclosures in our neighborhood make me wonder: where are those people now? Do they have a roof over their heads? How horrible must it be for the children, not having a safe environment to grow up in?
The next time you see a homeless person, I hope that all you see is a person in need of help. And I hope that if it is within your means, you will find it in your heart to help a little.
Imagine what kind of a world we could live in if all the Christians (and members of other religions) stopped focusing on all the things they want for their own churches- and how righteous they themselves are because they can quote Bible verses- and started doing good whenever the opportunity presented itself. As you see, I am not even dreaming about people actively seeking out situations in which they can help, just doing so when they are asked and when they can...
"Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." (quote taken from one of my friends)