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There are different reasons people become homeless, but the fact is the one common denominator they have is, to quote Henry “Frogman” Thomas, they “ain’t got no home.”
What’s more important than the why, is how it can be remedied. Let’s play doctor.
No matter what the reason someone becomes homeless, like a patient, after diagnosing the problem, the right steps need to be taken. As is the case with cancer patients, a patient’s mental attitude is very important to getting well.
Like cancer patients, the homeless need to have hope, and faith. They need to take one day, one step at a time, and have faith that someone cares. In 12 Step Programs, there is a belief to hold on to by faith that there is a power greater than ourselves.
Like cancer patients, homeless folks need to take actions that will help them. A friend of mine is undergoing chemotherapy. The doctor recommends drinking lots of Gatorade. Likewise, the homeless need to improve their skills, further educate themselves, find jobs and do other constructive things. As I wrote in a recent blog, idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
The homeless need to have a mission in life, and not loiter in The Land of the Lotus Eaters.
Just as cancer patients are not helping their condition by smoking, homeless people are not helping themselves by escaping through alcohol and drugs. A married homeless couple got drunk and were hit by a car. They survived the physical harm, but their cynical, nihilistic attitude and nasty demeanor continues to plague them. People around them consider them personae non grata.
People without a home are like the rest of the population — they face various issues, such as drugs and alcohol. There are various degrees of problems in the homeless community, as there is in the general population. Some can function in society better than others.
When you get down to it, human nature is human nature, and we all have the potential to get involved in anti-social behavior. It’s just a matter of degree. Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, once visited a nuthouse with someone he called “an intelligent layman”. This layperson remarked that the people he saw in the funny farm were just like everyday people, but with their problems greatly magnified.
The homeless are just like the rest of us, except they have the added burden of not having a home. In their circumstances, it is easy for the homeless to give up on life. They sometimes feel that society has written them off. And some members of society have. That’s their (the ones who have written them off) problem.
Some of the homeless have become alienated from their families. This past season there was a Christmas party in the public library in Levittown, PA and a Christmas dinner at a local warehouse, fixed up for the occasion. The volunteers who help the homeless and other homeless people are their family.
I have been connected with the homeless in Bucks County, PA for about a year. Still I wonder, as in the Bob Dylan song:
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be on your own
No direction home
A complete unknown
Like a Rolling Stone…
With a little help from their friends, and with a power greater than us, the homeless, like Lassie, can find their way home.