I’ve sat in so many community meetings discussing homelessness—something that many describe as a nuisance, or worse—that I sometimes feel like I’m in a marathon that never ends. I’m running toward an elusive finish line: The day no American has to resort to living on our streets.
I’ve written numerous times about how, often, people and groups point fingers at each other instead of working together. Those blaming fingers shoot rapid-fire accusations like social assault weapons.
“Those homeless agencies in my neighborhood are attracting more homeless people!”
“I am going to go out of business because all of the panhandlers scaring away my customers!”
“Those lazy homeless people just need to get jobs.”
“My councilmember cares more about helping that homeless program than helping the people who live in the neighborhood.”
“My property values are going down because the tent city near my house is messing up our neighborhood.”
It sometimes sounds like a group of teenagers who refuse to admit their own faults.
What is wrong with society when, confronted with a significant moral issue, we spend our energy blaming others instead of resolving the problem?
Is our struggling economy the culprit? There just isn’t enough money to spend on helping people who live on our streets. We can barely fund our police officers and firefighters. Teachers are being laid off and city workers are being furloughed. Maybe it’s easier to blame others than to figure out how to fund more housing….
Of course, our blame game could be a result of entrenched political bias. Some people think that people are homeless because of something they’ve done. They’re all lazy or addicted to drugs. Other people think that homeless people are the victims. The economy has put them in a tight spot, they don’t have enough family support, and they lack a society that will help them.
Should homeless individuals pull themselves up by the bootstraps? Or should we carry them until they can stand on their own? Depending on our perspectives, we certainly know where to point our fingers.
Maybe our society keeps arguing about homelessness, and blaming others, because we are frustrated.
Helping a broken, hurting, or sick person is not simple. I wish we could press a button and their problems would just go away. I wish we could just call 911 and have an emergency service worker take each homeless individual to a new apartment.
Resolving homelessness is not that simple, and it is frustrating.
But imagine being on the other side. Living on the streets while dreaming of being in your own home. Watching passersby shoot indignant glares in your direction because they think you’re lazy.
Maybe people who are homeless should be pointing their fingers at us.