Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reality of the Homeless

Just returned from Portland. It's a beautiful city and when I get the time to go through the pictures I will put up an entry.

I was driving home from work when I saw a man on the side of the road. He had a huge cardboard box which he had taped to a stop sign. On it he had written something about being robbed and having nobody to help him. I couldn't see the rest of the sign, but I knew it ended with a plea for money. What else would he put on a sign? Regardless, I didn't give him any money and I drove off. I sense that spot was a bad place to panhandle.

A thought entered my mind: was he telling the truth, or lying to get money? I bet everyone driving around me had the same thought. We had all chosen to err on the side of caution (and comfort; I didn't want to cross three lanes to give him a dollar). I decided that he was probably just trying to get money for drugs or booze.

How depressing is it that I have come to regard homeless people with mistrust. I think about how hard I worked to get my money and I'm loathe to give it to someone else just sitting on the street. The harsh Protestant work ethic comes in too, if he is poor it is because he is lazy. Is this idea valid? Couldn't this man get a job anywhere and save his money, making sure to hide it or deposit it before he has a chance to get robbed? Perhaps he could do this. Maybe he has too much pride to do that...but what about begging? Isn't that below working at McDonald's? I can't diagnose this guy based on my twenty second observation of him.

Here is my opinion on the homeless. I think that there are some people who have fallen on tough times, be it because of drugs, alcohol or economic situations, that can be helped to live a better standard of life. And, I think there are some homeless people who are mentally unstable and would require medication or counseling to get off the streets. I also think that there are a group of homeless people who are there because they feel entitled to help without working. I think it is at best regrettable and at worst despicable that these people would take resources from those who need it and then continue to panhandle.

This idea might be controversial, and I've decided to stop it there. What do you think?

1 comment:

Alex G said...

Seems like a pretty accurate description to me.