The sun is just crossing the horizon as I enter downtown on my way to work. The air outside my mobile place of privilege is very cold. As I roll to a stop at a red light my attention turns to a middle age man holding a sign saying he is hungry and that anything helps. As the light turns I witness a never-ending line of cars passing this individual. He is someone’s son, brother and maybe even father: I am saddened and angry!
All around my hometown of Denver there are homeless individuals and families in similar circumstances. Every day Coloradans pass them in the street as if they are invisible and I ponder what it would be like to be dehumanized to the point of invisibility. Even more pernicious is the effect on those passing by, with each turning away their very humanity erodes, they become less having taken one more step towards the hardened hearts that allow them to see the homeless as “The other”.
As I arrive to work I glance across the street and see a large gathering of homeless youth. It is an understatement to say these kids are a vulnerable population. They are subject to alarming rates of sexual slavery, abuse and being recruited as human mules transporting drugs. I move from angry to enraged, as pedestrians pass these kids applying to them the same cloak of invisibility I witnessed earlier. Ordinary Denver citizens propagating the long-standing systematic oppression that allows the death spiral of homelessness to touch the lives of these kids.
Seething with disgust I begin my workday, with each task my sense that something more must be done increeses. Lunch arrives and I intend to take a walk to sooth my damaged spirit. Downtown is awash with people going out for lunch. As lunch goers pass homeless individuals “flying-a-sign” I listen to their conversations. I hear “Get a Job”, “Lazy”, Damn Drunks”, “They stink”; my warrior is energized. It is all I can do to not verbally attack these individuals; I want to yell at them:
“What the hell is wrong with you? That is someone’s son, brother or father! Has your humanity vanished to such an extent that you have no compassion? What stinks is your attitude that entirely erases the value of human beings! And another thing, flying-a-Sign is a survival skill, it is incredibly hard work! None of you would be able to stand in the extreme cold 12 hours a day just to scrape together enough money for a cheep bed bug infested motel room and a cheep meal.
It is your indifference that breeds this problem, your support for laws that criminalize the homeless. Well let me tell you what, as long as you criminalize existence you can expect resistance because it is you who are the problem not these incredibly strong individuals who are the victims of your systematic oppression.
Instead I go back to work wondering how many people in my own community hold such attitudes? If you have read this and you still hold such attitudes, please never read anything I write again, you are a waist of the divine energy the gods used to manifest your life