Jesus at one point on his journey comments on the static state of the homeless population.
He says to his listeners that the homeless will always be here with us. In another place he equates a compassionate act to those in need, as the same as if we had enacted compassion directly on to Him. Essentially, the homeless population* are Jesus in the flesh. They are messengers of the Rabbi from Nazareth.
I think Jesus is doing something incredibly important here, I think he is reminding us all that we are connected to the populations in exile.
Remember, in this culture, if you’re poor, you are on the outside. You’re essentially kicked to the curb. By societies standards you have no influence, you are castrated.
But, for some people, the homeless population makes them feel uncomfortable. They have made me feel uncomfortable and I used to be homeless. There is something about our interaction with them that turns us off. I think it has nothing to do with the invasive smells that befall some of them or even their overly-gregarious demeanor.
I think its because they negate us.
Because they remind us of what we don’t need.
They remind us that we have become too attached to the ‘stuff’ in our lives. We don’t embrace them because it would mean the ‘end of our life’. It would mean we would have to deal with our inherent spirit of entitlement and its destructive after-effects.
They are a symbol of our death.
That’s why we can’t look for too long or it would be like staring back at ourselves as we were meant to be. I am not saying we are meant to be impoverished.
No one should be.
But the homeless population have become a symbol of all the things we could lose if we ended up where they are now. And I think we forget that that line isn’t that far off.
If we truly interact with them as equals, we would have to confess to our greed, preservation and narccisstic spirit that sometimes goes so easily unnoticed. Mutual reciprocity is dangerous territory because than it means we are in a relationship with someone who might take advantage of what you or I have to give, and we may not know how to handle it, so we don’t try at all. Since they negate us by being themselves, we negate them by not being ourselves.
In the regard that they are symbols of our death, they than can be referred to as violent liberators. They violently liberate us from the lives we think we have a right to own. They violently liberate us from our inherent spirits of entitlement. They violently liberate us from the fantasises embedded within something like the ‘American Dream’. They force us to look outside of our ourselves.
All of their reminders, behaviors and ‘social impropriety’* remind us that we need them to balance our incessant need to bipolarize our opinions of them. They violently liberate us from the irresponsibility of not seeing them as fellow brothers and sisters. They violently liberate us into a life where we don’t feel a need to sustain our greed and desire for ‘stuff.’ They have the ability to free us. How?
I think we need them to negate us.
We need to be negated to find ourselves. To discover who we are meant to be beyond the death of us.
If anything, these peculiar people could be the best thing we’ve encountered and must continually encounter. We can no longer rest in the comfort of apathy. We have a responsibility to the other if not simply to learn something about ourselves, but even more so to learn something about our humanity. Once we stop caring for someone in need, we stop being human.
*The homeless in this article alludes to anyone who is in need. Anyone.
*I use the word social impropriety in terms of how perverse society tends to like to define what is ‘normal and acceptable’