Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When "justification" hurts others

Earlier this week I enjoyed a conversation with one of Dallas' Exchange Clubs.  The meeting was really delightful.

There were about a dozen of us.

All of us were post-60 years old, felt like a fraternity of sorts!

My job:  to talk about the high cost of keeping people homeless and on the streets.

The "return on investment" of permanent housing in real savings to a community makes it a no-brainer of a choice when it comes to public policy, but we continue to settle for the status quo that does little good for anyone.

So, we kick the can down the road while our extremely poor neighbors live in shelters intended to be emergency solutions for the short term, but end up becoming community institutions with long-term residents in a string of nights that too often runs on for years.

Anyway, as we spoke about the mythical stereotypes associated with the homeless, I had one of those moments of insight, at least for me it was.

"If you don't want to help the homeless, then don't," I counseled my new friends.  "But at least don't concoct some lie about the helpless, homeless guy or gal that further embeds and strengthens the inaccurate stereotypes in an effort to justify  your decision not to help."

I believe that is what happens an awful lot when it comes to the very poor among us and our decisions to "walk by on the other side of road." .

What do you think?

BTW--I've had amazing meetings this week with church leaders about building cottages in our PUSH 50 project at Malcolm X Boulevard and I-30!  

So encouraging! 

More later. 


Anonymous said...

What are the mythical stereotypes associated with the homeless?

Larry James said...

Anon, 8:53, thanks for asking. Typical stereotypes include the notion that all/most homeless persons are dangerous, addicted, living on the street by choice, crazy, lazy, shiftless, dishonest,deviant, etc., etc. Often these evaluations are made with no contact or real relationship with anyone who is actually homeless. Having made these assumptions, it is much easier to ignore, disregard and dismiss while finding justification for our decisions to do so.

Anonymous said...