“HE was somebody’s baby.”
That was my thought as I was walking to work one Sunday and noticed a man who appears to be in his late 30’s or even early 40’s fast asleep in front of a business establishment in the heart of the city. At one point I thought he was dead, but he managed to reorganize himself to his left under the scorching sun and the strong breeze we were experiencing at the time.
At that moment a number of questions jogged through my mind, so I took a few pictures with the intention of writing an article in the hope of drawing attention to another of the social problems facing our country: the plight of the homeless. There are hundreds of persons in our country at this time who are simply in need of help and it is time we begin to show them greater care and attention.
I have seen these people before and I have seen them as well in other countries. Saint Lucia is not alone when it comes to the homeless. But how do you go from being someone’s child to digging through trash cans and begging on the streets for survival and sleeping with dogs? Must this be the fate of any human being? And must the rest of us, the very good Christian people that we are, accept it?
When was the last time we heard of any serious initiative in our country on behalf of the marginalized, the vagrants, the homeless, the beggars on our streets? At one point there was this debate as to whether it was all right to remove them from the streets and place them in homes. The Lions Club did all they could to assist, but yet still there is an increase in the number of homeless people around. It’s obvious that nobody really cares about them. Nobody.
Remember the biblical story of the good Samaritan? Are there any good Samaritans in St Lucia? Surely, there must be a few, so why isn’t anyone helping those in need? Show that you care about that brother and that sister. It’s not too late for an added New Year resolution.
What about those of us who live and eat comfortably? What is our reaction to those we see begging and living on the streets? For the most part, some of us, we shun them, we run from them, we even spit on them and we avoid eye contact at all costs. Every once in a while, we drop a quarter or a dollar into their cups or on the ground and hope God notices the gesture.
We must stop fooling ourselves because God knows our hearts even before we put our hands into our pockets looking for that quarter.
In real life there is nothing wrong with any of those reactions. It’s simply human nature to fear or run from what we don’t understand.
For the most part, people just don’t understand the homeless, how they got there or how to help them. There are a lot of homeless people out there, yet the very tragedy of their existence does not enlighten even them with the solution to their misery.
Why? Because there are no easy answers. Honestly if you ask me, I don’t have the answer on that aspect of life, if it was sports misery yes.
If we are going to be honest about the homeless, some could be considered to be beyond any real help or hope. From my vantage point a large number of the homeless suffer from drug addiction and/or alcoholism, are mentally challenged, or have decided to escape from the bounds of “normal” in their respective communities.
Leaving that number aside, however, our nation does have an obligation to help the rest.
To do so, however, the games must stop. The poor and the homeless are continually used as disposable pawns to be sacrificed in the defense of partisan rhetoric by those who hope to capitalize on their anguish. Who is guilty of such abuse?
We all could do more, but before that can happen, we have to accept that we can only save those who can and want to be saved. Period. The dilemma becomes what kind of resources can we marshal?
The homeless are not some subhuman background noises to be ignored on our way to an appointment, but people who, for whatever reason, have been relegated to the lowest rung in our society..
Finally, life has taken their hopes, their dreams and family too, but basic human dignity is a right that should never be stripped away, because they once were part of our nation building.