No one ever wants to say, “I’m almost homeless.” Nor hear it from a friend or family member. It evokes a barrage of unwanted emotions for both speaker and listener, which may include pity, shame, guilt, shock, disgust, and assorted judgments. All are expression of fear: if it can happen to them, you could be next, right? Nobody wants to look at that, so the fear usually dresses as pity or judgment first.
Homelessness happens to “other people.” Addicts, drunks, bums, and not-very-bright folks, right? But lately it’s been happening more frequently, and the “other people” are your sober, intelligent neighbors, friends, and family members. Too close for comfort, right?
It almost happened to me.
How does it happen? Don’t get me started on the corporate takeover of our government and media, though that’s a huge factor. Understandably, another piece is that those to whom homelessness is not happening don’t want to be bothered or can’t cope with thinking about it or feeling those unpleasant feelings that it brings up. (“What’s happening to those ‘other people’ is not my problem.”) But for the persons to whom it is happening, the path often looks like a series of decisions which seemed like good ideas at the time, but appear much less so in retrospect.
How does it feel? Unless you’ve been to that edge, you probably can’t imagine. It strikes panic, terror and sometimes self-loathing in the heart and mind, and can quickly become debilitating if one loses the ability to imagine a brighter future. If one has ever endured a trauma, some level of PTSD surfaces: constant worrying or trying to devise a plan to survive or recover; insomnia; fatigue; or worse, the devastation of giving up. Spiritually, it can be a profound and transformative experience as one comes face to face with one’s self and Creator, without the distractions of what passes for “normal life.”
How can you help? See them as valuable people; Let them know you care; Hire them; Take them in if you can; Volunteer or contribute to a shelter or program; Give to those on street corners holding signs; Pay attention to the corporate undermining of the real possibility of peace and plenty for humanity, and stop participating in it (i.e. shop locally, buy used, shop less); Meditate; Envision a world that works for everyone – every day - because our thoughts make a difference. Really.
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