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We Are All Homeless

Posted: February 22, 2011


Recently I was surfing Facebook and discovered a post that was made by one of my friends that read that when he sees a homeless person on the street with a dog, he always feels worse for the dog. Well, I love dogs, too, but I have a lot to say about this statement. I thought about posting it on his profile, but I refrained. I did post, though, 'how sad, what about your fellow man?' Why did I not post more on his profile? Because I realize that he has lessons in life to learn no differently than I do and I am certainly not in a position to judge.

Later in the string of posts I discovered his mother had made a comment that she agreed with him and she even went so far as to state that when she walks by them she makes the comment 'You should have listened to your mother.' Here, I really had to curb myself from responding. I had entered a number of comments in the post box but decided after much contemplation not to post any comment. It bothered me all evening.

Now, let me elaborate on the weight of the post above. I recall that the woman I mentioned above had suffered and recovered from alcoholism round about the time her children were in high school. As her children made it through their teens, one of them, I had been told through the grapevine, had suffered from drug addiction and also recovered in rehab. Knowing the whole family, I considered that both of the recoveries were at least in some part a result of love and support from those around them. The woman's husband stood by her side as she recovered from her illness. Then, she and her husband stood by their son's side as he recovered from his addiction.

It made me wonder how the woman could use such shallow words to remind the homeless person of his past, one that she likely has no awareness of how difficult it might have been for him growing up. What if his mother had been an alcoholic like she had been and he just couldn't take it anymore and ran away?

Then I contemplated the deeper concern for the dog than the man. I wondered if the dogs that these homeless individuals kept were leashed. If not, then it was clear to me that the dog was there by choice. Maybe the dog wasn't even aware that it was homeless! Maybe instead the dog loved his counterpart and was there because he had found in the man what he wanted most, to be loved and cared for. I reflected upon the notion that the man and the dog might actually be the ones to possess something that the onlooker might subconsciously desire. Maybe they had real love and commitment that an onlooker wished to have in their life. The man and the dog could count on one another for love and support, but even more importantly, do so in an unconditional way.

Then, this morning, I revisited the post string on my friend's profile and noticed that his mother had removed all of her posts regarding her perspective about the matter. I realized I didn't need to say anything at all. Maybe she realized how heartless her comments were.

Then I noticed yet another strange twist to the experience. I visited the woman's profile page and in irony, she had posted that she was moving into a new home today. I wondered if she might reflect upon her good fortune that she has been blessed with. A loving husband, loving children, and a beautiful new home. I wondered what might happen if she were to invite just one of these individuals into her home for a warm meal. Maybe sat down next to one of these individuals on the street to offer them her warm heart and a smile.

I am not going to sit here and type away at my keyboard acting all high and mighty. I have never invited a homeless man into my home for a warm meal (yet). I don't… or have not yet, spent much time in my life volunteering at homeless shelters. I haven't spent a night on the street just to see what it is like. Probably the only thing I can relate to in the matter is 1.) that my dog is quite loyal and expresses her interest in my love daily, and 2.) I have spent a lot of time in a big city giving my left overs to homeless people on the street after many dinners in San Francisco. Beyond that, I have little experience. At times, I do feel compelled to give a helping hand to those less fortunate in our world, and have done so in a number of different ways that have been tremendously rewarding.

PhotoI, however, wish to applaud the work of Jeffrey and Clifford Azize who traveled the world to answer deep questions about our existence in their independent, award-winning film 'The Human Experience' (currently showing on pay per view) In the film, the two brothers spend a week on the streets of New York to learn more about what it is like to be an individual with no place to live. Through their efforts many of us can gain at least some perspective on what it must be like.

Irregardless of my lack of experience as a homeless individual, I do feel compelled to express my perspectives on the matter of the golden rule. Our world is changing by leaps and bounds. You never know what is coming next. You never know who your true friends will be. You never know who will offer you a helping hand in a moment that completely catches you off guard… one that spirals your life out of control. Homeless or not, that man on the street with the dog in his loving arms may be just the hand that is held out to you. Why? Because he knows the ways of our often heartless world yet he has survived. That pet in his arms knows the extent of his love and willingness to care for something…. to share in the experience of unconditional love. Maybe that love will be extended to you one day. Heck, maybe it already has been extended to you. Maybe every time you walk by, that man is sending you vibes of unconditional love.

We will one day unite. All of us. As reflections of ourselves, the people of the world will share in the experience of peace that real unity brings.

We all have challenges in our day to day experience. There is always what appears to be a better life. There is always what appears to be worse. In the end we are ALL whole and complete yet most of us spend little time finding appreciation for what we have or extend a hand to those who are less fortunate that we are. Imagine if everyone on Earth put out a helping hand to assist someone less fortunate that they are. The world would be a very different place. And, the irony of it all? The homeless man may very well be the one putting out a hand to the individual who appears to us all to be at the top of the pyramid of societal success. The one who seemingly has it all and the homeless man are one and the same. They each may be the extreme of success in the financial sense, but money is only one measure of a life.

We must all learn what we were put here to learn. Never underestimate what lessons you might be here for. Just when you think you have survived it all, the real lessons are presented. To love ourselves wholly we must eventually learn to love ALL. That homeless person is a reflection of you no matter how hard you try to separate your societal existence from him or her. One day this will become clear to us all.

If not your hand, at least extend compassion.

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RE: We Are All Homeless
By: BarbaraF - February 22, 2011 02:00 PM MST
Loved this compassionate and thoughtful piece.
RE: We Are All Homeless
By: cdangelo - February 23, 2011 11:37 AM MST
There is something to be said about humility as we don't always understand or know the circumstances that have led people to where they currently find themselves. It is not a matter of feeling sorry or judgmental for the homeless, but having a compassionate heart. Share even a few words of wisdom and trust that they too will rise and grow for their experience.
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