I normally walk over a bridge to go home everyday — a pedestrian bridge. When I get to the top of this particular bridge, normally there’s someone there sitting on the pavement — holding their hands to their face with a cup in front of them: “I need money.” On some days, there’s an older lady there with what it seems to be a daughter/granddaughter. These are the things that really upset me because those children don’t deserve to be included in the chaos.
A word and one of the most controversial topics. I believe there are different degrees of homelessness. We can’t compare homeless Americans to homeless Africans or Indians for the sake of governments. In America, homeless people can get shelter every evening, meals, clothing and other things; in Africa, it’s a free-for-all. Every man for themselves.
There was an interesting topic on a recent Ted video that sparked a debate (or what I thought was one) from a “therapist” (whatever that means). A woman told me, “how about some sensitivity?”
Ok, I’m sensitive.
Because of a collective and conjunction of bad choices, you’ve landed yourself on the streets. I will jump in the defence of foster children, which is an incredibly detestable story. However, everyone has different stories. I’m not talking about homelessness in the likes of Somalia, India, Bangladesh and other places…..I’m talking about America. Owning up and taking 100% responsibility for being in your position is the first thing you need to do. This man on a Ted video said, “we should build homes for all homeless people.” But, if you put a homeless person into a gorgeous home with a homeless mindset, the individual will still perpetuate a homeless lifestyle because he too, still has the homeless mindset.
In order to change the way someone is….you have to first change the mind. The paradigm. The habits. I remember Charles Barkley made fun of Michael Jordan on an interview one-time — calling him “cheap.” Michael Jordan didn’t give money to a homeless person. Oprah Winfrey went on to comment, “well, I do agree because to a certain degree…you’re literally prolonging the hell with the individual. If you give them money, they will believe that they don’t have to do anything.”
For example, I tried giving a homeless person food on a pedestrian bridge in Thailand — he denied it. Yes, he denied food. The most quintessential gesture amongst homeless people here in Thailand. Later, someone dropped some coins in the cup and he thanked them.
What does that tell you? Yes, the arguments such as “only some people deny this. What about people in this country, and that country. You’re not very sympathetic. You’re not compassionate.” Welcome to the University of Hard Knocks. You’re homeless and you want other people to give you…..money. Not food? “Only some people.” I’ve heard that excuse already. What if I go to a homeless person and give them….let’s say a book? Will he keep it? Nope. Although the book has everything he needs to get out of his rut — he denies that, too.
Napoleon Hill once took a man downstairs in his shop, unveiled a mirror after swiping away at the blanket that was covering it, pointed in the mirror and said, “that’s the only man that can help you.”
If I’m sensitive about the homelessness phenomenon in America, it won’t change the mind of homeless people. One of my friend’s uncles said, “Arsenio, don’t make fun of homeless people. They are quitters.” Giving them homes will do what for them? Changing their mind, however, can change their reality and the way they perceive it to be. Clothe them, bathe them, do as you wish….but until the mind is changed, you’re perpetuating a global problem.