Why You Should Acknowledge the Homeless
Here in the United States we, like most countries, have homeless people in our major cities.
If you live in a city, you have probably seen a homeless person. The atypical experience will include a cardboard sign, perhaps a weak voice asking for change and on rare occasions, some creative haggling or street performing.
The latter situation usually garners some attention, but for the former, and the majority, they go entirely unnoticed.
Now we, as the innocent street-goer, feel bothered, and yes sometimes it is a little threatening because you don't know what to expect.
But I do want you to reflect for just a moment on the question below;
Do you remember a time you texted someone you had a MAJOR crush on only to be ignored and you never get a reply? Didn't that suck?
The answer is yes, yes that sucked. Because getting ignored sucks.
Now imagine that scenario in person. Imagine sharing a hello with someone and they completely ignore you. Or that time you went for a high-five and got left hanging.
Nightmares right? This stuff feels so awkward. You feel so inferior.
It's not you just being insecure. It's a biological thing. Having someone acknowledge you provides validation. It makes us feel welcomed, comforted and included.
So here's what I am getting at.
Every day homeless people are COMPLETELY IGNORED like they aren't even humans. Most people won't even look at them. If you want to understand the feelings of inferiority, invisibility, and unwantedness, try being homeless for a day.
Unfortunately, for those on the street, this isn't a one-time thing and they are ignored day after day. These individuals, who, are already at presumably one of the lowest points in their life are reminded by nearly every single person who walks by them that they are a burden on those surrounding them.
This leads to increased levels of depression, hopelessness and loss of purpose.
I mean, think about it, how many times have you just acted like you didn't hear their call for help?
So who are the mean people doing this?
This used to be me, is probably you (sorry) and the stranger next to you in your Uber pool every morning.
These are the same people who make impassioned posts online about social causes. The people who share posts about change, equality, love, giving and changing the world.
Yet, when given the opportunity to make a change in the world, ever-so-small, we, you and me, instinctively ignore that opportunity, because of fear.
We aren't bad people because of it. There are genuine concerns to be had. Some homeless people are on edge and commit crimes while others spend their cash on drugs and alcohol.
But I'm not even here to tell you to give them cash. I am making an argument for why we, as a community, should at least respond.
Why you should give a shit about this
The reason this I am writing out this message is because this isn't some foreign, extra-terrestrial species that just lurk among our streets. These are your neighbors who hit bad times and now we are ignoring them.
Okay, so what does that even mean?
This means that within the next year, almost 500,000 of those 564,708 homeless people, will be sheltered, cleaned up, potentially working and once again living amongst the same people who ignored them during the most vulnerable phase of their life.
It is highly likely the person you are ignoring is actually in a rough spot and they are not infinitely homeless until the end of time.
I'm not here to scream be a do-gooder, hand out cash and pour soup on the weekends.
But I am here to push you to look at them. To wish them a nice day. To give them a nod. And if you cannot help them at that time, say it.
This is harder to do. It takes more strength to acknowledge their misfortune. It takes courage to say no. These are all things that will fare you well in life.
It's that easy... just don't be that guy
You know the guy who I am talking about. I am talking about the guy (or girl) who reads a post like this and shares it with a quip like; "I love this!! The world needs more good vibes."
Then, when it's time to put into the world those good vibes, they choose to keep their arms tight, head straight and power walk right by that individual on the sidewalk.
I'm not telling you to do anything crazy. No cash. No time. No mentoring. Simple, easy impact.
So, again, I implore to be a person of action, turn your head and give that PERSON a nod, a "hello" or a "not today"
It's nothing crazy.
Just a little micro-decision to turn the direction the universe.
Cheers, my friends