Essay Preview: Homeless Citizens?
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Homeless citizens are often considered a burden, more over, societys burden. The down-and-out seem, to the average citizen, to be habitually on drugs, or prone to violent behaviour. Should it not be our responsibility to help those who can not help themselves? That is just it, some of the impoverished are living under such appalling conditions that they can not pick themselves up onto their own strength. I have a few questions that I would like the average person to think about regarding the homeless: Why are they on the streets? What can they do about it? Is this societys dilemma and should society lend a selfless helping hand to clean up the streets? These are just a few questions that I will attempt to give my opinion on and if one does not agree that they may, without prejudice, hear what I have to say. I hope that one would honestly take to heart the value of a human life. People all have a living, breathing soul in need of some sort of Ðfire in order to kick-start their life back together.
A man without a home is lost. To wander the streets with no hope is possibly one of the loneliest situations to be in. There are many reasons why a man is homeless. I was chatting with a homeless man once, he told me one of the main reasons he was on the street was due to cocaine use. He lost his family, job and everything he owned due to cocaine. The man did not go into detail about how he became addicted to the drug, or how long he had been on the streets, but just listening to this poor soul talk was depressing. According to him, he hated cocaine, but he could not kick the habit. Selling everything for the next hit is horrible. He never told me his name, but I could see in his eyes a lack of will to live. In his mind, life from that point in time was hopeless. That brief conversation was a totally spontaneous occurrence of a man trying to get some change; I lied and said that I did not have change on me. I could not trust him, I did not want him to use the money for cocaine. That is one reason why this human being and many others are living poorly.
The poverty rate is extremely high in the United States:
In 2000, 11.3% of the U.S. population, or 31.1 million people, lived in poverty
(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001). While the number of poor people has
decreased a bit in recent years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has
increased. In 2000, 39% of all people living in poverty had incomes of less than
half the poverty level. This statistic remains unchanged from the 1999 level. Forty
percent of persons living in poverty are children; in fact, the 2000 poverty rate of
16.2% for children is significantly higher than the poverty rate for any other age
group. (NCH Fact Sheet)
A significant amount of those people are living on the streets. Sometimes a mother will abandon her children in the streets due to the fact that she will either have to pay for her kids or alcohol, and she chooses the latter. The sad reality is that some people are forced to live without a home due violence or abuse in the home. There many reasons for being homeless, but most of them seem to have a correlation between violence and drug abuse. A good amount of the normal people with houses would say that the impoverished did something to get there and that they deserve to be destitute; that may be true to an extent, but what can a homeless person do to get off the streets? To get off the streets, a homeless person can do nothing at all on there own strength.
As mentioned before, the man with the cocaine addiction told me that he did not want to be on cocaine, but he is so deeply addicted that it would be impossible on his own strength to save himself. I felt helpless as he sat there. I am not familiar with drugs, so I told him to have a nice day; I then walked away feeling useless. Not once have I seen the man since. Homeless people have little hope. Thinking that no one will give them a job they spend the little money they get on drugs or alcohol. If I were homeless and without any chemical dependencies I would save my money and buy a cheap suit from Value Village or Salvation Army. This may cross their mind, but most homeless people have little confidence that they can elevate themselves beyond their current slump and get a job. Some do, and that is wonderful but it is rare. Chemical dependencies can affect every judgment one makes. Heroin reacts with ones pain tolerance in accordance with ones nervous system. After a period of extended use, even once off the drugs for only a little while, everything can hurt. For a severe heroin addict, the wind blowing through ones hair, if it has not fallen out already, can be really painful. Even touching anything can lead to agonizing pain. (Schmidt p.45) Thus, a heroin addict is more likely to buy drugs rather than a suit or nicer clothing. Severe withdrawal symptoms occur for most other strictly addicted persons that are clean for a very short period of time. Even though alcohol has become widely accepted in our culture, some people become far more easily addicted than others. An interesting story about alcohol abuse is about a woman in Leeds, England. This lady in England has lost two of her sons: One son to bronchitis, the other by a fatal accident. The deaths of her two sons had taken its toll and sent her into a severe alcohol depression. The lady lost her job, and ended up on the streets for eleven years. If it was not for a Leeds support group that was mandatory that she had to attend, she would have been on the streets for even more time. (Scadden p.24) Other people are severely traumatized by violence or abuse that they suffer psychological disorders that impair the thought processes. Another story that I read was about this young child that was only twelve years old. The boy in this story was born into an already poor family and at a very young age was psychically and mentally abused by his alcoholic father. The father of this young boy would abuse him daily in very grotesque ways. The boy suffered great psychological trauma and eventually ran away from home. For about six months he was living on the streets. The twelve-year-old suffered enough on the streets as well: he was addicted to many drugs, was used in prostitution and was thrown into harms way more than once. The amazing part of this particular story is that fact that a random person on the street noticed this boy and actually did something about it. The young child was admitted into a child rehab program and was placed into a home. Although I am sure he still suffers mentally, at least someone did something to make life more pleasant for the boy. (Moore p.443) Unfortunately, a human being can receive abuse like the kind mentioned above totally undeservingly and end up on the streets.