By Veronica Emilia Nuzzolo, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Homeless in America
“Get a job, is the comment most often hurled at homeless individuals as they panhandle their way through the streets of our cities. Some are addicts, some are mentally impaired, some are just temporarily down on their luck, some are veterans, and many are targeted. By far the most painful to see are the veterans some with missing limbs. So, the next time you see a homeless person and you start thinking, get a job, just stop and count your blessings that you have a roof over your head because it is only by the grace of god that you are not homeless.” National Homeless Organization (2009).
January in New England, bitter cold weather and snow is upon us, how many homeless people did you see, let me rephrase, did you notice outside today? Did you look the other way, did you pretend not to notice, or have you been so conditioned to ignore this population of people who you legitimately just do not even see them anymore.
What is your perception of a homeless person, how do you justify your opinion of this population of people, do they deserve this life, did they ask for it? I personally cannot imagine that anyone would make a conscious decision to wake up one day and want to struggle just to attempt to meet his or her basic needs.
So, if you did encounter a homeless person in front of the corner store, or at the T station, did you say hello, did you even acknowledge there was a person standing or sitting in front of you, did you offer him or her a hot cup of coffee, did you offer the second pair of gloves we usually have in the back seat of the car, or at the bottom of our backpack this time of year, did you do anything, when you stepped over the man sleeping on the heating grate, did you stop to see if he was alive, should you do anything, do we have a social responsibility to better help the homeless or shall we say the invisible people barely existing within our community?
When did it become socially acceptable to treat human beings like animals?
Oh yes, the irony, what I noticed when I was out today – I noticed several groups of people out and about very concerned with finding, feeding, keeping warm, and protecting feral cats and dogs from this fierce New England weather, (thank you and please keep up the good work).
Thank goodness humanity still exists for some, but what is the destiny for the lesser animals also known as America’s homeless.