Opinion
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Come Out of the Shadows

By | Jun 18, 2013

The ShadowDuring the long days of summer, when daylight saving time stretches the sunlight through early evening, the shadows of our buildings and bridges seem darker and longer.

Hidden in these shadows, especially in our more urban neighborhoods, are people who fell through the cracks of our country’s social safety net.

A patient in a hospital one day, living on the street the next. A prisoner in a county jail yesterday, a prisoner of homelessness today. A housewife last week, a domestic violence victim this week. A suburban kid listening to his iPod a month ago, a teenage runaway now. 

These people are mere cyphers in a society that embraces popularity and power. They are the nobodies that we, as a community, would rather ignore than help. Remember the last time you stared resolutely straight ahead when that homeless person approached your car at the freeway off-ramp?

Their world is black and white. No joyful smiles. No beaming eyes full of hope. Instead, a life of darkness. The political world, in most cases, ignores their powerless voices.

A stronger social class would be kicking and screaming to be heard. But those who are struggling to find their next meal or figure out where to sleep at night have no energy left to make themselves heard by those who have the power to house them.

Instead, they are hidden in the shadows of our cities. Behind that dumpster. Underneath the freeway overpass. Beneath a bush high on a nearby hilltop.

It can be hard to see them, especially if we choose not to look too deeply into the shadows.

We think they are different than we are. Homelessness would never happen to us, so they must be insane, lazy, or worse.

It must be their fault. They brought those shadows upon themselves.

Soon these shadowy, unknown people transform into myths and urban legends to terrify us. We associate them with violence, theft, and sexual deviation. We run from the shadows, like children afraid of the dark… refusing to look into the darkness and see what is really there.

If we cannot see, no wonder we are afraid.

We need to shine a light into the shadows to reveal what, or who, is there. We need to tell the real stories of these people’s lives. A housewife like me? A teenager like my nephew? An elderly man like my grandfather?

The light might show us some things we would rather not see. But light overcomes darkness. It makes the unknown known. It dispels our unfounded fears by showing us the truth.

Maybe we need that famous vigilante from the days of radio, “The Shadow.” He was a mysterious, shadowy figure who kept the world safe by taking down evil criminals.

We need a mysterious hero who can help us overcome the evil of homelessness that hides in the shadows of our society. Perhaps, with the Shadow’s help, the problem could finally be overcome for good.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

2 Comments

  1. Hiker23
    Posted Jun 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    The "Mysterious Hero", who could he be? He be WE. Only a concerted effort by our community, our city, state or nation will effectively resolve the problem. Unfortunately, the real resolution of the problem is not within the realm of conservatism which abhors a societal or socialistic solution. In the meantime we must do what we can for those we are in touch with.

  2. Posted Mar 1, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    thanks for sharing.