Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Homeless Problem
An excellent post from Survival Guide to Homelessness:
It has been said before, but it is worth repeating: the homeless problem is the problem the housed have with the homeless.
I was just reading a terrific little blog item about a kid in Washington that had managed to set himself up as a computer consultant using a Starbucks wifi network while homeless. When Starbucks was closed, he spent the night at Kinko's. He scrounged for food and computer equipment. He worked for tips. He kept himself very clean. He surfed the internet for girls. In short, he had created a lifestyle. The blogger who was writing about him gave him a substantial amount of money hoping he would change his life. Of course, he couldn't understand why the wifi kid spent it on computer equipment.
The blogger couldn't understand it because he refused to acknowledge that this man had a legitimate and sustainable lifestyle. When given money, he reinvested it in that lifestyle, as any responsible, reasonable person does. The blogger was angry at him. Why, oh why, didn't he struggle to get a home? The man was already home.
Homelessness changes you. So does having a house. Your priorities become the priorities of the extant lifestyle. What you do with money has much to do with how you are living. All lifestyles are investments, and we continue to add resources in an effort to improve their performance. Abandoning a lifestyle is something we never do without a serious push. Once a lifestyle is comfortable, why should it be abandoned?
This is another reason that charity is so unsavory. It comes from a position of superiority. The charitable feel they have a right to determine the goals, purposes, and uses of their charity. It lacks dignity. I don't mean for the recipient. I mean it is not dignified to try to direct the lives of others, to be so involved in the details of other lives. It's a failure to understand boundaries.