homeless in america

“I look like a bum,” she says softly to herself. The feeling comes from her stained sweats and low self-esteem.

Another woman drives by a broken down neighborhood. “Look at all the trash” she complains disgustedly to her daughter. “You would think they would clean up around here.” She refers to the area as a ghetto and trains her daughter to do the same. She worked hard and believes her achievements make her a better person, able to condemn the actions of others. She doesn’t understand that the only difference between herself and the little girl standing in front of the junk-ridden house is the womb that birthed them; one born into poverty, one born into riches.

Still a third woman endearingly tells her husband he looks like a hobo. A woman pushing a cart full of collected cans standing near them waiting for the light to change at the busy intersection has overheard. Her eyes glisten with tears at the words. She studies the well-dressed, warm man on this frostbitten morning. She hears people call her hobo more often than she hears her own name. The couple never notices her presence.

“Go away!” a woman says to a man asking for food. He frightens her because he is a beggar and she doesn’t understand why he won’t work. So out of fear and a sense of superiority she refuses to associate with him.

A caste system doesn’t exist in America. Yet we treat the poor and homeless in our country as well as we treat a litter of unwanted cats. Sometimes the cats fare far better. Yes, there are options, but with people like us that the poor have to impress we make it difficult for them to improve the very lives we condemn. “In the land of the free” we treat them like they don’t exist, quickly lowering our eyes when we see them in our cars waiting for a handout at the stoplight, afraid lest we make eye contact with them. What’s the harm in a smile? And I believe that in the day we stand before Christ and He asks why we didn’t feed or clothe the homeless, it will be a sorry excuse to say, “I was afraid they’d buy alcohol with it.”

This came from the heart of my sister, Amy Jorgensen. I just helped her find some of the words.


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