Friday, September 17, 2010

City Vibe

This past summer I spent quite a bit of time in major cities in the United States. Having been born in a major city, but now living in a city that is not as big, I know the city vibe. People are constantly moving, and couldn't have a care in the world about what others are doing as long as the motives of others do not hurt them. This summer, though, I was reminded of a city aspect I tend to forget about – the homeless.

Multiple times I found myself walking down streets and noticing how many homeless there were. Many held signs asking for food and thanking the Lord for the donations people gave. Others shared their creative acts with the walking audiences and hoped that their performance was more deserving of money than the person on the street I just walked past. Then there were those that were disabled, the ones that most felt sorry for because they spent their life in a wheelchair roaming the streets.

As I walked down the streets, I also observed different individuals' reaction to the homeless. Numerous children would gawk and stare. Adults would grab their children's hands when walking by, as if a simple grip on a hand could protect their children from the reality stricken cities. Either way, I noticed that no one stopped to ask the homeless their story. Most believe that those people are homeless because on an addiction, whether drinking, drugs, or any other type of abuse that left them on the street. Although this is most likely true with a fair amount of the homeless I passed, I knew there were some who had been laid off or had a family situation that they could no longer deal with. Their stories and situations remain hidden within each homeless person, but as human beings it is our job to help.

Even if the homeless were not good for the city, causing inflation in crime rates and other negative effects, the homeless add something to cities that we should be thankful for. While I wait for different trains to arrive, the homeless illuminate the platforms with music, good and bad. This music becomes the rhythm of the city. When I came to stations where the homeless were not present, I realized how much the homeless added to the city vibe. Without the music, an eerie, awkward silence would float through the air. The homeless make waiting for public transportation bearable.

Although homeless help a city contain its identity, the homeless themselves are hurting. Nightly sleeping outside and constantly being starved of hunger is not a positive experience. I'd be lying if I told you that the homeless have changed my life, but the truth is, the homeless just make all of my problems seem incredibly miniscule. This past summer I was never able to connect with one of the homeless to hear their story, as I wish I had, but I did learn that homeless people do not need to be gawked at, they need to be helped.

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