The Homeless Guy Is Socially Inadequate

14 May

Sheila McKechnie once said, “People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” To this I must say, “I don’t agree.”


Those who are critical of homeless people are usually mean spirited bigots, spouting all sorts of vulgar and inaccurate statements about the homeless. So, it is not uncommon for the more compassionate to rush to homeless people’s defense against such cruelties. These defenders of the homeless attempt to meet fire with fire, but often do so by countering inaccuracies with inaccuracies.


These days, people do not like admitting their imperfections. Certainly on an intellectual level people know and admit that there are no perfect people. Yet whenever specifics are mentioned, people fiercely defend themselves, denying their own foibles and faults.


Could you expect anything less? Contemporary society is founded on Capitalism which forces people to compete against each other in every aspect of life. Looking as though one “has it all together,” or at least appearing to be better than the next person, has become a focal point of human existence. “First impressions are the most important.”


Being that we people have been at this competition thing for so long, pushing the bar of perfection ever higher, yet knowing within ourselves how limited we really are, we have come to accept, and even expect, that people will lie about themselves in all manner of social situations. From trying to score in a single’s bar, to filling out a job application, people lie about themselves. At least the successful one’s do.And there seems an unwritten code that giving permission to people to lie means receiving permission to lie as well. We are all in it together and we are all guilty, so lets not make an issue of it – seems the rule of the day.


So, when considering the plight of the homeless, when talking directly to the homeless about their issues, when allowing homeless people to “tell their own story,” we take what they say at face value, just like we do when we hear any other lie. But the homeless are lying about themselves and their situation. Our society, our culture has taught them to so do. Besides, when a homeless person admits the very problems that caused him to become homeless, he’ll then be put in a situation of having to deal with those problems. And homeless people avoid doing this like the plague.


This particular lie is a problem because we also want homelessness to end, and the only way to make that happen is to be completely honest about it. If we are to eradicate homelessness, then everyone, homeless and non-homeless and homeless advocates must drop their defenses, admit to themselves and others the reality of the situation.


The biggest obstacle to ending homelessness is our inherent dishonestly, the second biggest obstacle is that the vast majority of homeless people are, indeed, social inadequates. Yet, admitting this reality is a good thing. Social inadequacies are things that can be overcome. Teaching people how to be adequately social is an achievable goal. When you look at what successful case managers, social workers and homeless advocates are doing in the field, you’ll see they are teaching homeless people how to get along in society.


The only way to reduce homelessness to any significant degree is for everyone to accept and come to terms with these very important truths regarding homelessness, and society in general. I hope that someday soon they will, but I’m not holding my breath.

3 Responses to “The Homeless Guy Is Socially Inadequate”

  1. Nate Baker May 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    Preach. *raises hand gracefully*

  2. LeeAnn May 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    I love the honesty to your blog. It's refreshing!! Keep up your blogging. If you'd be so kind, check out my blog when you get a chance, and follow if you like it!! I'm SO new. lol….thanks.

  3. Executive Director May 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Great observations: denial and not being straight about reality simply perpetuates what isn't working. Although you touched on the underlying issue, you didn't follow the path far enough. Homelessness doesn't exist in a vacuum, it exists within the paradigm called Capitalism which causes the competitive behavior you describe. Homelessness is one of the many negative outcomes of a system that values profits and power more than human beings. Given this environment in which we all live, it serves no purpose to try and find out why people don't function in a dysfunctional system. Instead, I suggest that we ask the people who know the dysfunction of the system best what isn't working and enlist their contribution in shifting our collective consciousness from consumption to connection.

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