Minimalist Lifestyle Blog
“Homeless Any Help Appreciated”
I have noticed that some people who embrace a more minimalist lifestyle believe that being homeless or living in the tiniest home possible will be the answer.
When I think about it, I start asking a lot of questions.
For example, I was watching a video program featuring a man who constructed a tiny home and took us viewers on a tour.
He noted the yard in the city he lives in, showed us where he composts his compostable waste, showed his hand constructed outside shower area, his tiny indoor toilet, etc.
Questions I want to ask him are, who pays for the water you use? Where do you dump your sewage? What do you do with your greywater from showering & washing dishes? Where does your compost go? Where do you wash your clothing?
If you are living off your friend’s hospitality, hooking up to his sewer system, you are not self-contained.
We have to think about the impact we are having on the environment.
Yes, living smaller instead of larger saves money, saves space and generally reduces environmental impact.
So, what about being homeless?
In my opinion, being homeless makes the greatest impact of all.
How? Let me count the ways:
- Compassionate caring aside, the fact is – Homeless people rely on the kindness of strangers and the general facilities the taxpayer pays for in order to survive. They are not contributing but rather are consuming and being a burden in this manner.
- They use more non-sustainable resources in order to survive – example: take out containers & disposable plastic ware
- They have no facility of their own in which to create compost of their waste and rely upon the antiquated systems for disposal in order to survive.
- Many homeless folks lack the facility for cleanliness and can spread disease they pick up like scabies, bedbugs, lice & more. This puts the burden of dealing with such pestilence on the passerby who may pick them up…. I’m sure you can think of more ways homeless people make an impact on everyone’s life. I bring our awareness to the fact we are all connected, so what one homeless person chooses to do may effect you in some way. – I invite you to add your thoughts in comments.
FYI – I’ve been homeless more than once in my life.
I know what it’s like.
I’ve met a lot of people who glorify homelessness.
These folks glorify homelessness as a viable minimalist lifestyle.
No worries from the bill collectors, the greedy grip of the systems that constantly take your money for shelter, utilities. They think they are living more lightly on the earth. Some people are homeless only to try to escape the burdens of society, like to be “underground” so they may avoid detection from tax collectors.
But being homeless, either as a displacement or refugee situation, whether temporary or permanent, is a grievous experience that millions of people must face each waking day. And it burdens the world more than being a responsible homeowner.
The answer to this question is like an entire subject for another blog.
But think about this: If you are homeless, you are placing the burden of your needs on others to provide.
If you defecate or pee outside, someone cleans that up – or you use a public facility that someone pays for.
Meanwhile, I’d like to share a recent experience I had with a homeless person.
I am not in a good position to help a homeless person.
When I see someone homeless on the street, I look around to see if there’s a convenience store close by.
Because I can quickly buy them some food and water and maybe a blanket, if it’s cold.
Other than that, I can’t do much more in the moment but to remember to look up what facilities are in that area when I get a chance and let them know I saw someone on the street.
No, I don’t offer money. Why? That money may be used for drugs or alcohol. If you search the internet, you may find strong statistics linking homelessness to substance abuse. I heard about such studies on NPR this year.
In Amsterdam, they don’t allow homeless animals.
Why should we allow homeless people?
At this moment, an old adage comes to mind: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Just bringing your awareness to homelessness is helpful as the beginning towards a solution.
he was holding up this piece of crumpled cardboard
Scrawled with the words, “Homeless Any Help Appreciated ”,
He just stood there, shrunken, looking pretty bedraggled, bent, broken-spirited, sad….
Probably thinking, “No one’s paying attention.
So I’m gonna sit here for a minute because I’m feeling tired”
Well, it was the end of the day.
From his body language, I surmised he hadn’t gotten any responses to his paper plea.
He stood on the shoulder of the road, right by the freeway on-ramp.
I noticed that my heart was hurting.
Without thinking, I rolled down my window and said, “get in”
I knew he was in the worst neighborhood in the city
A huge grin sweeping across his face
He immediately straightened up and brightened up
As I drove, he offered that he’d just gotten released from prison
I internally freaked out. What was I doing?
The doe-eyed,19-year-old hitchhiker with the sweeping grin did not seem to fit my concept of a hardened x-con.
No, I was not a little scared when he said that.
Turns out he did 11 months.
I didn’t ask what for.
It scared me a little more.
Yet I felt compelled to assist him.
Didn’t want more fear to block my aim to assist him, so I didn’t ask him anymore questions.
Except, I asked him what he was doing at that spot?
He said he didn’t know what else to do and he has no idea what to do with himself.
I Heard myself say, “the best thing for you – just go out to Lancaster. Those Amish help you“
I think I’d I subconsciously remembered a street scene I witnessed this past summer in Amish country
A group of Amish folks earnestly spoke with a homeless girl who looked pretty scraggly.
I know that they were willing to take her under their wing and I heard that they seek out and try to take care of needy people in their community as part of their spiritual duty.
To see this young, able-bodied man standing on the street under the freeway in the waning light of day, looking as crumpled as his paper sign, was too much for me.
After dropping him off, I cried intensely, feeling a mixture of knowing I was guided by a greater force than myself and crying both for people in this situation and with joy at the thought that maybe I helped him.
Then I brooded….
How can the prison system turn somebody young out like that with nothing and expect them to be able to make an honest life?
He apparently had nothing and no one to begin with.
Maybe this is the situation he was in before he ended up in prison. Maybe he stole something so he could eat
I knew drugs or alcohol had to have been involved,
somehow becoming a final factor in muddying his thinking, and ultimately sending him to prison for some petty crime.
I’d heard myself advising him to stay clean and stay away from the drugs and the drink.
He’d enthusiastically replied, “Yes ma’am; I got clean and I’m going to stay clean!”
He wouldn’t have been clean more than 12 hours on one of the worst Philly streets.
But in Lancaster, the Amish will take care of him.
I sent him off with some food and water I’d saved for my long drive home.
I knew I had a Home at the end of my drive where greater provisions awaited.
I had felt like I was being compelled by some greater force to stop for him because I usually tend to think in terms of my own safety first.
I recognize we live in troubled times and things are getting worse for a lot of people, people who do things they wouldn’t normally do out of desperation.
I feel blessed that this x-con had no intention of harming me.
He was so grateful that I saw his big eyes go glassy.
Who knows? Maybe I restored his faith in humanity just a little.
So he could feel more hopeful and connected.
I was shaken by the experience yet exhilarated because
I really think it was worth the risk.
What do you think?