Is Homelessness and Poverty By Chance or By Choice
by Bernadette A. Moyer
Our news is flooded right now by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many people have literally lost everything in losing all their worldly possessions and many have lost their homes. Surely they didn't choose to have a natural disaster take their home and literally render them homeless.
But what about the culture of people that exist in just about every inner city and are homeless? We learn that much of the inner city poverty and homelessness can be traced back to alcohol and drug addictions and abuse and some of it stems from some form or combined forms of mental illness.
We have people in our cities that are living on the streets and literally have no money, no food, no clothing and no shelter. Is it by their own doing? Or is it an inability to properly function due to a disease that may well be beyond their control?
Most of us can't imagine choosing to live in poverty or choosing to live on the city streets. Through my recent affiliation with a center that serves basic needs for Baltimore city's most vulnerable and poverty stricken citizens, I was stunned to learn just how many individuals, men, women and children who are dependent on others for basic human services. This is only one center in Baltimore and on an average day up to 500 people come for a free hot meal. For some this may well be the only meal they will receive for the day.
There was a time when I believed that to truly be homeless, a person must have burnt every single relationship from family to friends and beyond. But the reality for many is that it is a culture and a learned behavior that passes from generation to generation. Getting up and getting out of poverty takes incredible strength, determination and courage and a support system of caring individuals. It takes the courage to face a foreign way of life, one where they take full responsibilty for themselves can be scary for some who never witnessed this modeled behavior.
What about the people who are struggling with a disability, a health issue and may never be in a position to work and afford to care for themselves and contribute to their family. Then there is the "working poor" people that have full time jobs yet it still does not translate into self-sufficiency.
I remember a time when elder family members and family members with disabilities were cared for and supported by their biological family and this was just natural and normal acceptable behaviors. Today we have a culture of people that all but abandons the sick and the elderly and tries to place them in agencies to care for them. Sometimes there is no other choice but assisted living centers. For me, I would want to be home and to live at home and to die at home.
The people that lost their homes to hurricane Sandy never anticipated that they could wake up one day and literally find themselves homeless. What would we do if a natural disaster destroyed our home, where would we go and who would help us out?
I have always viewed our country, the United States of America as a wealthy and a "fat" country with so much abundance. There is no reason why any single person, our brothers and our sisters should not have their basic human needs met.
Most of us can pray and we can donate our time and our treasure to help those less fortunate. I pray. The above photo was recently taken in an all mens shelter during our recent storm and where at this location, 200 men were being housed and fed. As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas and in this season of giving and gifting, let us not forget that many are doing without and that "To whom much has been given, much is expected." Luke 12:48