|Photo by russelljsmith on Flickr|
Can we be honest? Let’s be honest. Honesty is so important to curing homelessness. And really, dishonesty is a major factor is preventing people from escaping homelessness. Oh, there’s lots of dishonesty to be found in the homeless world. Homeless people are dishonest, homeless shelter workers are dishonest, politicians… well, that’s a given. Everyone has a say, and everyone has an impact, in the lives of homeless people, (of all people really). But homelessness needs a cure, and cures require science. Science is the practice of finding the truth. And, I am a big proponent of the idea, “The truth will set you free.”
Lately there has been a lot of discussion about homeless specialities. Most vocal of late has been the talk concerning homeless gays, and homeless teen gays. Article after article states that these gay teens who happen to be homeless need special consideration, special help, in overcoming their homelessness. And, every other speciality of homelessness has been discussed in the same matter. If you are black, or gay, a woman, whatever, there is supposedly some special cure for your homelessness that is different and special from all the other homeless people and their cure.
Becoming homeless is much like committing suicide. Contrary to popular belief, people do not commit suicide because they happen to be gay, or black, or a women, or whatever. They do so because they are suffering from depression. It is the depression that leads people to suicide, not the situations that they are mulling over when depressed. Depression causes people to magnify the negative and difficult aspects of their lives completely out of proportion, giving the sufferer a distorted perspective of their life and situation.
The statement, “I’m homeless because I’m gay,” just doesn’t cut it. No, you’re homeless because your parents are assholes and kicked you out of their house. The statement, “I’m homeless because I’m black,” doesn’t cut it either. No, you’re homeless because, while growing up in the projects, no one ever taught you the life skills necessary for living independent of institutional help.
Let me be clear about this, I am in no way intending to belittle the difficulties people face in being whom ever they happen to be. Life can be hard, even in the best of circumstances. Yes, generally speaking, black people have more difficulties in life than white people, and generally speaking, gays have more difficulties in life than straight people. Yet, there are many white people who have it worse than blacks, and many straight people who have it worse than gays. (Feel free to insert any particular life speciality in the above statement, it’s all the same.
Homeless people need two things to overcome homelessness. They need to learn the life skills necessary for effectively organizing their lives, and they need the means by which to earn an income necessary for paying for their needs. That’s it. Nothing else is needed in order to overcome homelessness. Sure, it’s easier to say than to do, but nothing more is involved in the cure. Addressing the issues that make someone different from other people has nothing to do with curing homelessness. They are all arbitrary to the homeless condition.
I say all this mostly because we must be honest about life. Whether homeless or not, life is often difficult. Curing yourself of homelessness is not going to make all the other problems of your life go away. And, it would be stupid and a waste of time to wait for all your life’s problems to be solved before taking the steps necessary for ending your homelessness. You’ll never leave homelessness if you do.