This is an extension of my previous post about Lies
Myths are really nothing more than lies that have been adopted as truth by a group of people. The larger the group, the more the myths appear to be true. There is strength in numbers, especially concerning a lie. Take for instance the lie that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. People got so carried away with that myth, the United Stated decided to invade the country. In this example we can see how myths, started by a lie, can be extremely harmful. This gives us all the more reason to be extremely careful with verifying information before acting on it.
But people are usually not so careful, and though we are so technologically, and scientifically, advanced, we lead lives replete with myths.
When talking casually with people about homelessness, they betray a lot of the myths they hold dear. They believe homeless people are lazy, although most homeless people work regular jobs, and the homeless situation itself is extremely taxing on a person’s body, mind, and soul. Actually, the only homeless people who do not work, or who are not productive in some way, are those with extreme mental illnesses or addictions, or both. They also believe that homeless people travel the country, looking for places to pillage, although every legitimate survey shows that most homeless people experience homelessness in their home towns, and do not travel. When homeless people do travel, they do so mainly to find work in another place. This also counters the notion that homeless people are lazy.
So, what is it about people, that they prefer a myth to the truth? Certainly, there is enough quality information available about homelessness to dispel them all. To a large degree, when given a choice, many people prefer myths to facts.
In our highly evolved society it has become necessary to develop justifications for ideas, beliefs, and actions. To do so is considered a sign of maturity. And achieving this label, of being “mature,” has become paramount to what is labed “success.” And the idea of achieving the “success” label has been put on a pedestal for all to see and admire. It has become known as life’s goal. And conformity to these dictates has become required of all citizens. Of course, the foundations beneath these ideas of maturity, and success, of being goal oriented, are shrouded in mystery, and the exploration of these foundations is highly discouraged.
When the average person begins to explore the whats and wherefores of homelessness, they find their preconceived notions, not only about homelessness, but also about themselves, to be challenged. And in the seemingly complicated and confusing mess that ensues, most people respond by infusing their ideas of homelessness with those myths that allow them to maintain their preconceived justifications of other subjects. To accept the truth about homelessness would require a person to reevaluate and change their ideas about a whole host of other subjects, including those mentioned previously about the meaning of life and their role in it. Most people just don’t want to do that.
As long as myths about homelessness dominate people’s thoughts and actions regarding homeless people, then the real needs of the homeless will never be met, and real solutions to homelessness will continue to escape us.