By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
All the partisan political sniping, pious pontification and nastiness that’s still being unleashed over social media does nothing except take away time and valuable creativity from the 1440 minutes available daily that we have to make a difference in the lives of the needy.
If we spend the discretionary portion of those 1440 minutes (or 24 hours) berating, bemoaning and bewailing the current state of political affairs, there’s a good chance we’ll be thinking way less than we might about homelessness, hunger and poverty and the part we can play in helping alleviate it.
Then to be well rounded, shouldn’t we also have at least some knowledge of what’s going on overseas in global hot spots like Syria, Turkey and Iraq?
Sadly, the seemingly endless politically partisan ramblings on cable news (which obviously draw ratings or they wouldn’t continue), also end up excluding substantive coverage of social issues both here and abroad.
“Why?” I hear some of you say. “Abroad? Don’t we have enough to take care of over here? I can’t help those people.”
Perhaps a rudimentary knowledge would allow us to be more informed and pray for those who “live” their lives in such incredibly difficult conditions. I’m pretty sure the charities working in those countries (and others) would also appreciate our prayers and support.
With that in mind, I wanted to redirect at least my portion of the social media dialogue to one social ill that is obviously very close to my heart: the issue of homelessness and what comes to mind when someone hears the word “homeless.”
I asked that question to friends on our Joy Junction Facebook page, obviously somewhat of a skewed sample as they’ve already demonstrated some concern for the homeless by liking our page.
Being lonely, cold, disconnected, sad, hungry and vulnerable were reoccurring themes.
Brenda said when she thinks of homelessness she is reminded of bad luck, medical debts, lost jobs and unfortunate circumstances.
Crystal said she thinks of shopping carts and park benches. Does that come to your mind as well?
In addition, she added, “How close we all are to being there, even though we may not want to think about it.”
Sharon said many people are just one paycheck away from homelessness, and often with no one to help stop them from sinking into its quicksand.
How true that is!
She added, “Put yourself in their shoes; losing their dignity, nowhere warm to go in this cold weather, no love and no warm meals. My family keeps jackets, sweatshirts and blankets we don’t need in our car to hand out when they need it. Give them respect and a food gift card.”
Suzanne said homelessness is very sad, and that to her it’s wrong when anyone has to go without food, shelter and safety.
“At the very least, when we see someone who is homeless, can we wish them a silent blessing in our heart?”
Good point, Suzanne. We can all do that, right?
Beverly captured the essence of homelessness, saying the word brings up images of people who are ashamed, hurting, guilty, as well as feeling useless, hungry and uncertain of the future.
Someone else said thinking about the word homeless reminds her of seeing homeless people with a frightened look on their faces not knowing where to go, or what to do. She was also reminded of tears and hopelessness.
LaDonna said the word homeless reminds her of people who have no place to live, but still have love to give. She said she has met many wonderful people who are homeless.
Reenie said the number of homeless people in America is a symptom of a failed system.
Lou said when he thinks of the word homeless it brings to mind a person who has lost their home because of finances, family issues, abuse, drug and alcohol, abuse, PTSD or mental illness.
Dusty said the word homeless brings to mind people who are “potentially dangerous. Probably crazy.”
“That’s not to say I don’t have compassion,” Dusty said, “but I live in an urban area and that is a real life reaction.”
However, a number of community comments on a local media website after running a story about a Little League facility being reportedly vandalized by the homeless were just plain nasty.
One guy wrote, “Let’s motivate smelly, lazy, annoying homeless to stop being burdens on society and get jobs like the rest of us, with night sticks.”
Someone else with the screen name of “Slick,” wrote “Round up the homeless and dispense with them.”
That’s not so slick, “Slick.”
While we have many wonderful people without whom Joy Junction would be unable to keep going, it sounds like we have a few people who need to make better use of their allotted 1440, right? Maybe all of that nasty political partisan bickering is causing some people to act like Slick!