Agendas Skew Perceptions Of Homelessness

(Sure, many of my posts are really exercises in fleshing out ideas I’ve been kicking around for some time. And so they may seem a bit unfocused, or rambling. Please remember that I am mostly self taught. I imagine that if I were to receive a real education that my work here would seem more coherent.)

When dealing with a subject like homelessness, people attempt to make their observations about homelessness conform to other preconceived notions they have about life, instead of seeing homelessness for what it really is.

Nearly everyone has an agenda of one kind or another, and it seems more prevalent in the United States. The word ‘Agenda’ is defined as “a list of things to do.” And in our society, which is dominated by Capitalism, we have deemed “purpose” as an essential life goal.

Purpose is defined as “something set up as an object or end to be attained” and of course to attain an object or end, one must follow a list of things to do. No longer is it acceptable in our society to just be. Not only do we insist on a purpose for ourselves, we expect it of others too. We certainly are not content to let others just be, regardless of what our poets sing. Every single person is expected to assign his/her self to some purpose.

To achieve a purpose in life we must create an agenda. But even more than that we need to justify our actions. Not only can we not just let people “be” we are constantly questioning what other people are doing and why they are doing it, as if it were some how people’s responsibility to dissect each others purposes and judge them accordingly. And we judge people in an attempt to assign them, not only their place within society, but to assign their worth as well.

So, with much practice and effort we have developed very intricate and evolved philosophies that justify our actions. Some of these philosophies are now so pervasive as to have become national creeds. And many people have been holding to these philosophies, justifications for their actions really, for so long that they no longer see them as man made ideas, but as laws of nature, and often divinely inspired. As such, these philosophies are considered beyond questioning.

Homelessness doesn’t fit into any of the prescribed agendas currently in place in our society, and so people really don’t know what to make of it, except to say that there is something wrong with it, and as much as possible to exclude homeless people from the rest of society.

Moreover, homelessness challenges most people’s preconceived notions about life. At which point people are forced to do one of two things, either change their ideas about life, or attempt to reconcile their beliefs with homelessness. And as much as their particular philosophies about life are incorrect, their ideas and beliefs about homelessness will also be incorrect. And thus whatever attempts they make at ending homelessness will fail.

Neither Capitalism nor Fundamentalist Christianity adequately answer for, or justify homelessness within the context of the bigger philosophies they purport. And sadly, these are the two most dominant philosophies of life within the United States. Fundamentalist Christians don’t see their religion as a means of relating to God, but as an entire life philosophy that dictates what actions they take in every aspect of life. And Capitalism for most people isn’t just a means of exchanging cash for goods and services, but is very much like a religion with its own philosophy that dictates their actions like their religion does. And especially in the U.S. people often mix the two, Fundamentalist Christianity and Capitalism into a strange Nationalistic Philosophy they insist is divinely inspired. When approached with an idea like homelessness, these people’s usual reaction is to reject the homeless person for not conforming to the ideas they hold dear.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless

One comment

  1. Mit

    I agree, and sadly it seems that solutions are far from satisfying. CAPITALISM only offers laws to deal with the perceived threat of homelessness. Which in turn feeds the propaganda that sheds a skewed vision of homelessness.I.E Crime,disease and worthlessness there by establishing need for action by the justice system. which of course has no ability to offer social remedies. The truth is that in order to solve homelessness you must get personal and involved. Can you see any of the Nashville elite going down to the trenches and getting personable with the homeless like a regular person? Fear keeps them at bay. So the city who has big plans has no patience with the homeless population and enacts laws to discourage them from staying around.


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