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Homelessness Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Daniel Brophy, United States Nov 24, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions


What is it that we think when we see a homeless man sleeping on a bench with a grocery bag at his feet, stagnant before the slapdash society? Maybe he wears a quill-face, thorn-like-whiskers in the raw air of the night. You know he is alive because you can see his cold breath leaving his nostrils underneath the illuminating lamp light, hamburger wrappers and lotto tickets blowing by. Maybe his toes are showing from his ragged shoes, his nails hanging-uncut and yellow and his gloves do not match in color. Who is this man? Why is he on the street? What led him here?

It is my strange hunger, as a middle-class dependant citizen, to attempt to understand the conditions, causes and contributions to this way of life. What would I do if my family deceased, every last one of them? Would I be homeless? Could I survive in this capitalist form of government or society as an artist with brushes in a room crammed with splashes of color, charcoal dust and pigeons in my window looking in? Would I try to seek a part time job either as an employer for UPS or Home Depot, since the cost of education would be out of reach? Would the government assist me financially? Should I concern myself with this issue, this issue that befuddles my mind?

As a citizen of this nation, a nation of plenty, should I concern myself with the man on the bench, a man who is a man just as I am? Or should I see him as a dangerous criminal, a drunkard who sniffs crack and buys heroine for 10 dollars a bag and in the south for 50 dollars a bag when it gets too cold to live up north? Should I see him as an undeserving screw-up in our society who is hopeless and on his own? Or should I possibly consider solidarity with the homeless? Do I really know how he became homeless? Do I have any idea of what he goes through to find food, to overcome his addictions, to shut out the voices echoing his name underneath the bridge? What can I do or say for the homeless?

Is it our individual right to move into our two-door-garage homes with 30-inch television screens and big back yards, to live a life unaware of the painful realities of homelessness? We look out of these windows and see men waxing their sports cars and women walking their purebred dogs and children playing football in the street. We hear the sparrows singing poetry in the branches and the squirrels eating acorns. We see a town unblemished with modernized homes for every perfect square block and for every person a cell phone and in their wallets a form of identification.

Or is it our citizen obligation to our community, to our world to have a revolutionary mind. When it comes to this issue, what is justice? Should we all define justice on our own terms and levels? When understanding some of the causes or contributions of homelessness (unemployment, mental illness, deceased relatives, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, unaffordable housing, suppressing government policies, and poverty, environment, and welfare reforms) what should one’s reaction become?

Or should we have a reaction at all? Do we have a duty here to see that every American in the United States can have enough food, a place to sleep and a job in which they can get paid a little over enough to survive and be able to do things that average middle-class citizens find time to do?



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Daniel Brophy

Homelessness. Poverty. Hunger. Men under bridges with rain dripping on their scruffy faces.

Every day I am exposed to these tragedies. I can't help but to address them, somehow. But in them, in the corners, in the cracks of the paint, or on the walls in graffiti, their is some message of hope for the viewer. I guess what I want to say is this - in our darkest most depressing of times, there is hope, we just have to find it, to look at our life, to listen to it, and find it.
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