Susan and I went downtown San Diego last evening to see a show called Rock of Ages. It was this loud, funny, wonderful musical full of the music of the 1980’s. We sang along to Starship, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, Journey, Pat Benatar, Bon Jovi, Poison – and at the end of the show we were on our feet singing, clapping, cheering. It was a few hours of raucous fun, and I left the Theatre feeling upbeat with my throat a little sore from the singing and cheering!
As we were walking to our car we passed a woman wrapped up in a sleeping bad, sleeping in the doorway of a downtown building. I didn’t want to stare, but I couldn’t help but notice that along with her bicycle she had one of those carts people use to put their children in while riding. She had all of her belongings in that cart, and she was using that as a sort of cushion for her head as she slept. Hundreds of people were walking by her, and still she slept.
I could feel the tears coming as I held Susan’s hand a little tighter and said: “If anyone passes that woman and doesn’t say – there but for the grace of God go I, they have no heart.”
How do people end up on the street in the United States of America? How did this woman end up in a sleeping bag with all her possessions crammed into a baby cart for her bicycle? How does one even begin to think of sleeping on the street? How do these things happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave? And why is it so many of our brave are the ones on the street?
A friend of mine wrote of his time living on the streets and it simply broke my heart. I find after reading his story that I complain less about what I believe to be the tragedies of my youth! Not that we all don’t face our own demons, for we most surely do – but, I always had a roof over my head and food to eat. His story of redemption and conquering his demons are worthy of my respect and my affection for him. He inspires me to be a person who now looks at the person on the street and question how they got there and how can I help them find a safer, warmer, loving place to call home.
It’s these unknown homeless citizens of this United States of America who have lost their way – lost their vote – lost their voice, that need those of us who still have that voice to stand up. They need protecting – they need to be fed, and they deserve our respect. I mean – think about it. If you lost your job and couldn’t pay for your home or apartment where would you go? If you had no money for food – what would you eat? If you had no car and no money for the bus or the train – how would you manage? If … If… If…
They all have a story to tell, they are all someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. What if it was you or your mother or father or brother or sister or a grandparent? This isn’t just their issue – this is a human rights issue, for it could happen to any of us, at any time.
Taking care of the homeless doesn’t seem to fall into any category on the upcoming Presidential election blurbs of what will help you get elected. They all seem to want to spend millions of dollars to bash gay people, millions of dollars to kill folks in Afghanistan, millions of dollars to keep women in their place, millions of dollars to allow folks to be able to kill another person – well just because they can, and millions of dollars to force a solitary religion down the throats of a people who live in a land that was built on freedom of and from religion. I’ve heard nothing on jobs or the economy or helping the veterans or feeding the homeless or basically taking care of our own.
I used to believe as Americans we were better than this – I believe now – we have lost our way… Those of us in the middle, and those on the bottom of the scale have been lost in the shuffle that is now American politics and American justice. The people with the money have the power and the people with the power have the money. The Honorable Lord Acton said it best: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As a people – we must find our voice before it’s too late for all of us. Can you hear your voice?