Homeless People Are Lazy (not really)

Many people believe it.  Might even be that a majority of people believe it – that the homeless are lazy.   Of course nothing could be further from the truth.  But truth won’t stop most people from talking badly about homeless people, and the homeless have little opportunity to defend themselves against such accusations.

Just trying to survive while being homeless is exhausting, not only physically, but psychologically and spiritually as well.    Being homeless means having only one or two meals a day, it means suffering from sleep deprivation, it means suffering rejection and loneliness, it means the rest of society will think and say all sorts of cruel, unjust, and untrue things about you, it means that almost everyone will reject you from serious employment solely for being homeless, it means that regardless of how difficult homeless life is, people will assume that making life even more difficult will benefit the homeless somehow.   

It is fascinating how the authorities, and others, will take away homeless people’s opportunities to be rested, fed, and sheltered, and then turn right around and blame (usually with arrest) homeless people for trying to get rest (sleeping in parks etc), trying to eat (dumpster diving, begging, etc), and trying to find shelter (in parking garages, abandoned warehouses, etc.)     Not having access to proper rest, food, shelter, etc., deteriorates a person’s mind, body and soul.   Being harassed by the cops and shop owners only makes matters worse.

To be living in this condition, and then taking on the demands of a job, requires a great deal of strength.   If society wishes for the homeless to be gainfully employed, and adequately housed, it would behoove society to lighten the burdens homeless people have to deal with, instead of adding to them.

Still, it goes on.  Sometimes the name calling is outright.  “Look at those lazy bums.”  Other times it’s more back handed, “if only they’d make an effort, they could get themselves out of that situation.”   Without actually knowing what they’re talking about, these people do more harm, than good, with their judgmentalism.   They create a society that feels justified in treating the homeless unfairly.

Science is something that I mention quite regularly, and which I will talk about with more frequency.   Science has a way of cutting through the crap and revealing the truth of things which is often denied.

More and more, science is discovering that “laziness” isn’t what people assume it is – a character flaw.  Lethargy (a lack of energy and enthusiasm) is mostly a symptom of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.    So, sometimes, when you see a homeless person who doesn’t appear to be “busy”, more than likely it is because he is plain tired.  If not tired, the lethargy you see in homeless people is most likely due to mental health issues that require professional attention.

When people are happy and healthy, they are naturally busy and energetic.   When meaningful and productive work is not available, people will naturally lose their enthusiasm.  But, when work is plentiful, and workers are fairly compensated for their efforts, their happiness and enthusiasm increases for every aspect of life, including employment.

The onus is then on society, and those movers and shakers who form our society, to create the framework that makes employment a meaningful and productive experience.    Sadly, in today’s world, a man can work a full time job and still not be able to support himself.

Lastly, I want to say that “Lazy” is a very subjective term.  There is no measurement that can accurately define it. To apply the word to people you don’t know is an act of bigotry and judgmentalism.  As for you Christians out there, you’d do well to remember that Jesus wasn’t fond of people judging each other.


About Kevin Barbieux

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