Take the Time to See Them – a Facebook Post by Angela Hopson
My children obviously know what I do. They've met tons of people in various stages of homelessness and recovery, as we have allowed folks to visit their pets at our home, and pick up food and items. Many times, while we are downtown, we might see someone I know. You develop a relationship with people over years. Nearby to our home we have someone obviously experiencing homelessness. The majority of folks I work with stay relatively hidden. It allows them privacy, some safety, and less scrutiny. However, invisibility is a huge theme of homelessness. Emails I often read are: hey, there is someone sleeping right out here daily, can't you do something about them being HERE?
We have someone experiencing homelessness near us. (We have had several, but rarely is the struggle as nakedly obvious) The sick irony that this individual sleeps at a major intersection, and there dozens more sleeping near busy streets daily in our city. Tons of you have driven by them.
Many times some (most) of you don't even notice them, because our society's brain has been conditioned to not "see" them.
I want you to see them. I want you to understand that in a country with so much wealth, that we are ok with this.
Are some of them addicts?
For sure. It's certainly a good debate to have on whether addiction is the cause of homelessness, or whether homelessness as psychological warfare of its own causes addiction.
For many of my folks, mental health is a huge factor. Honestly not horrendous mental health, but just basic untreated mental health that has caused a crisis in housing. Which causes a huge crisis is life, generally.
Physical or mental disability that prevents them from working and being self-sustaining. Mood disorders that cause them to withdraw when society says: you have to be functional all the time.
Trauma from domestic violence, childhood abuse, serving in the military...
Then, there are the mental changes that occur within a person, when one night - nothing you tried to do worked, you've reached the end of your rope and efforts...so you spent the first night like this...and realized, the world keeps right on turning.
It changes you. It changes you to find alternatives to a bathroom that flushes.
To not be able to wash your face.
To consider losing everything you own every day if you don't carry it with you.
To feel the fear of walking into a place where everyone else does, but not being seen as a whole person. To have other humans walk by you living rock bottom but they seem to see right through you as if you don't exist. These are humans too.
They are someone's mother, father, uncle, aunt, daughters and sons.
Someone loves them and is scared for them. Some have degrees and skilled trades.
Some have fought for our country in wars. Taught classrooms.
Raised children, families.
They have names, and they have stories.
They have reasons why they are out here. Some are more complicated than others.
But ALL deserve more dignity than what we currently afford them. I just want you to take the time to see them.