You’re a Filthy View

I was just reading an article about a man nearby in Ft. Lauderdale who was arrested for feeding the homeless. Ok. You can read the article here, if you want more info, but I want to get a little closer to something that burned me when I read the comments on the article. You can look at the logistics and legalities and all of that in your own manner of thinking, but it was THE COMMENTS that set me to writing this post.

“the law is not cruel at all.  Just sets some regulation of where you can feed these bums.”

“you can quit your job, eat better than most working people, see any specialist in the healthcare field you need, have dental work done, talk on your free cell phone, put your child in day care while you “look for a job” with the gas card they gave you to fill up your car,  lay down at night in the home they pay the rent for that I could not even afford and remain nice and warm with the heating assistance they provide.”

“either put them on a work program or in a mental institution or run them out of town”

So that’s what people tend to think. He’s an alcoholic. He’s mentally ill. He’s lazy. Let’s get something perfectly clear before we embark any further on anything I have to say. It can happen to any of you, any one of you at any time without hesitation. And it can happen quickly. If you’re financially not prepared for upset, then watch out. You’re next. What’s worse? Once you’re in that situation these are the views that people think of you. “Get a job!” you hear it thrown at you all the time. You hear it biting at you often, and sometimes you just want to scream, “THEN GIVE ME ONE!” And another bit of warning, it can take a second in life to make it happen…..and years, I tell you, YEARS to recover from it. It’s taken me four years now, and I’m just barely getting by. The world looks at you with distrust, distaste and a sense of blind acknowledgement. “God, why are these guys always ASKING me for something? Why are they always BOTHERING me???? GET A JOB!”

At some point in that life, you do give up. You just want to go from one day to the next. One meal, to the next. You forget anything at all about wanting anything more. Security? That’s luxury.

Sorry this post is so…disjointed. I’m not in my right mind. I was SO PISSED by what people thought of the homeless MAN that I just started getting angry and I had to let it out. The homeless in your city are as unique as the people who view them. Some of them want out, some of them want to live from one day to the next, and some of them don’t care anymore and slip into whatever intoxicant helps them forget what’s happened.

It’s easier if you’re a woman. Easier if you’re a woman with a child. But, if you’re a man? Forget it. You’re just another placard photo for someone to snicker at when get off the highway. You’re just another nuisance that bothers people. You’re another road side attraction to roll your eyes at with boredom.

I was once in Walgreens and a woman came rushing in loud and wild asking for a manager. “Some homeless guy outside YOUR store just asked me for change!!!!!”

I, being who I am, piped up and said, “OH MY GOD!!! Did you give him any????”

She replied, “NO! OF COURSE NOT!”

I asked, “DID HE ATTACK YOU????”

“NO!” She said, “I RAN IN HERE!!!”

And I just whimsically asked, “Then what’s the problem?”

“HE was bothering ME.”

So maybe that’s what my question should really be… there a problem with the homeless in America? Or are you just BOTHERED by the homeless? Is that what the issue is? I mean, we can find a gazillion ways to help them, but it seems, in turn, what people REALLY want to do with the homeless is to no longer have to be BOTHERED by them. Not help them, not find ways to get the ones WHO WANT out some help, but just no longer have to BOTHER with them. (And don’t mention shelters. You’re better off in jail than in a shelter. In jail, you have protection. Shelters are anarchy and fair game.) I was lucky. I found a way out. And dammit, if it didn’t take every ounce of fighting I had.

We don’t want you feeding the homeless because we don’t want to have to LOOK at them. Push them to the edge of town. Just….do something with them somewhere else. Our pretty views can’t be burdened by something so filthy.

Sorry. I’m just…..PISSED!

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  1. It breaks my heart that people forget that homeless people are PEOPLE. They are ‘you’ and ‘you’ are ‘them’. My 5 year old gets it so it baffles me that adults have such a hard time w/that concept.

  2. I’m not surprised you are angry. People tend to de-humanise the homeless, probably because it’s too uncomfortable to do otherwise (because then one would have to help, or be aware that it might happen to anyone).
    It’s pretty inhuman to watch someone starve because giving them food is supposed to be “enabling”.

  3. Judgment, as defined in the dictionary: an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought.

    Judgment, as defined by society: measuring what you think is right against other people’s choices or situations. There is no “careful thought” involved. People pass judgment on others with very little information or truth, based on what they feel is acceptable.

    “It’s not my life; I don’t have to live it” has become my mantra as of late when I come up against someone’s choices that I don’t agree with. There’s a lot of freedom in that statement. Also, don’t read the comment section. It’s filled with ignorance and hatred.

  4. I will never forget the time when I was leaving a basketball game and a homeless man asked me for money. It was bitter cold and snowing. I gave him $10 and my gloves. He started crying and said he could get a cup of hot coffee and food. He was so grateful. I hate it when people judge homeless people. Yes, there may be some that want to be that way, but there are far to many others that don’t have a choice.

  5. I am forever baffled that people are terrified of the unknown, especially when it’s been proven over and over that the known is far more dangerous. People don’t want to hear that they are far more at risk going home to their spouse than they are walking down a dark alley. They opt to put their hands over their ears and sing loudly until the truth and compassion goes away, or they vilify the innocent to hide their own fears and prejudices. How sad to walk around forever with that bile eating you from the inside out.

  6. I have noticed that we don’t live in the United States of America anymore, we live in the United States of “I’m offended”. I am tired of a lot of people finding it necessary to help the poor, homeless and dying in other countries. What about here? There is so much going on right here in our own country, wake up people!

  7. Oh man. I run a food pantry twice a week and this rips my heart open every single day. I wish I could do more. Tell me, Gregory, what is the best thing to do? I share money and food and gift cards, but I can’t afford housing or showers or storage space for their stuff. Every day it rains (and now it is getting cold too), I think about – worry about – the people I know out there. I totally agree about the shelters – horrible at best. And now there are NO food stamps for people who don’t work at least 20 hours a week. Does the general public even know this?! The situation is intolerable. and it definitely affects the way I vote. But really, what else can I do? I feel like there is SO MUCH need. These are wonderful people I have met and it makes me so sad.

    1. You are a wonderful person for doing the things that you do! In fact, you are a guardian angel for people who are truly downtrodden which is what this country has been about for over 200 years! Thank you for everything you do!

  8. Those who judge the homeless without mercy will one day be judged by God.
    In the meantime, we all need to do what we can to educate these ignorant and arrogant people; as well as show kindness and generosity to those in need.

  9. There but for the grace of God go I. I lived for years in an area of the city that had many homeless people. Largely due to the fact that the affordable housing they used to have has been replaced by million dollar plus condos. I often bought coffee, hot chocolate and sandwiches for them, which was much appreciated. I am lucky that I have family or I could easily have slipped into homelessness myself due to divorce. However, I was raised during a time when it was natural to help those less fortunate than you.

  10. Gregory, maybe you can answer a question for me. There is an old man, homeless, who shows up in my neighborhood from time to time. In the summer, I took him a cold bottle of Gatorade and a box of granola bars, both unopened. He said, “I’m sorry, I can’t accept those. I can only accept money.” Why would that be?

    1. I’m just hazarding a guess, but it is possible that the person has no way to carry or pack away the box of granola bars. The Gatorade? I don’t know unless he has diabetes and can’t have the sugar. I carry gift cards to places (Subway, for example), that do not carry liquor – or very small gift cards for a grocery store ($10) so they can get things to eat on their own schedule and maybe be allowed to sit for a while at the tables that our markets have.

  11. My father always gives money to people who ask for help. Maybe all he has is a dollar or maybe even five. My daughter asked him why. He replied because he had been so close to being homeless for most of his life.
    As a child, I thought his way of life was an adventure. Living in a tent in the boatyard. Living in someone’s home for the summer. Being happy to have a small space (a closet) of my own. Hitch hiking to go to town to get food. Selling fish from the boat and using that money to buy things we needed. Living on a fishing boat was interesting, and smelly. But, as I grew older I realized that what my dad was doing was just surviving. Now, he talks about how hard it was to have me visiting when he was so poor. I guess I could feel guilty, like he does, but I tell him that it was fun and different from the middle-class life I lived with my mother.
    Now, when I can, I give homeless people what I can. I do feel like I judge them sometimes, but I try not to. We are all that close.

  12. Totally get it. I have worked with homeless, no-income and low-income people for 17 years and know that the quote you started your piece with (“you can quit your job, eat better than most working people, see any specialist in the healthcare field you need, have dental work done, talk on your free cell phone,” etc.) is TOTAL bullshit. People who are on welfare/disability are given peanuts to live on – often far, far below the poverty line. People who make those comments have no clue whatsoever.

  13. My last year of high school my dad earned $880,000. We wanted for absolutely nothing and there was no shortage of friends and family.
    That same year, my mom left him and he had a devastating motorcycle accident. He was in a coma for 3 months and confined to a hospital bed for a year. And then had to learn to walk again. With that came a dependency on narcotics for the broken spine,pelvis, hips, leg and ankle. Obviously, he lost his company and his home. He had no health insurance and no money. And no friends. My dad has been on and off the streets since 1992 and although I can’t force him to live with me, the door has always been open. His pride stands in the way.
    They courts ordered him a $6.8 million dollar settlement but the state wouldn’t pay and he couldn’t afford to pay the attorney to pursue it.
    So, here he is. Broken. Homeless. With a drug dependency. I love him to pieces and pray that someday he can put his pride aside and come here. Until then, I pray that when you see a broken man, cold and alone….please buy him a cup of coffee. That man may be my daddy.

  14. Patrick my friend ~ please don’t apologize for having the feelings you do. As I see it, one of the biggest problems we have in this society is that so many people — when confronted with injustice, cruelty, stupidity, ugliness, and the like — simply go numb and quickly put on their blinders, or run away, or try to get someone ELSE to deal with whatever the situation is. It’s absolutely appropriate that you would be PISSED royally at such nastiness; we all should be, and would be if we weren’t so terrified so much of the time. There. Rant over.

  15. Oh honey, I am sorry. I have not part in that but I’m sorry. I know this pains you and for that I am greatly sorry. The tears that fall down my face now are for you and for everyone that is treated as less than a person. I don’t know why people are like that. That is what comes from us wondering so far from the truth. We are supposed to care for the widows, the orphaned and the homeless, the forgotten. But for the Grace of God there go I. It can happen to the worst and the best of us. This just breaks my heart. It doesn’t matter that a person is homeless, broke or a junkie, they deserve care, love and hope. People are mean, and cruel and unless we stand against it, there is no hope for us. Great big squish hugs for you dear.

  16. It’s pure ignorance and arrogance to think any one of us couldn’t become homeless at any moment. Rant on my friend. Get it off your chest. You have a lot of support out here. Look at all these comments.

  17. I have been trying to get a job for 5 years, 5000 job applications, 3 responses (2 telling me I was overqualified and 1 just thanks for the application), I needed (still need) a job. I had mortgaged my free and clear home, to buy a business and commercial building so I’d have a sustainable income (the gross was almost a half million the first year half of that the second), then the economy tanked and that took my business, my commercial building and forced me to bankruptcy. So I applied for every job I thought I could do (I’m physically disabled and that drastically reduced the kind of jobs available). With no job there was no income, I didn’t qualify for anything, no welfare, no disability because I didn’t (and don’t) have enough points. My home went into foreclosure and I have 56 days to get out, in the dead of winter (where I live winter is not a joke), with no place to go, no way to store my possessions until I can find a place with a spouse getting a pittance (under $800.00 a month) and who has a systemic heart condition. It’s painfully obvious we will be joining the ranks of the homeless in an extremely short time. I did everything I could to prevent this happening. How do you force an employer to give you a job? We had customers coming into the store who had been locked out of jobs they’d held for 15, 20, 25, 30 years. They were in shock, went to work and the doors were locked. I helped where I could, but the edge we were on didn’t allow much. I’m too old and physically incapable of dealing with being homeless in a cold climate and so is my spouse. I’m living proof it can happen to anyone. I did fight to stop it, with nothing coming in there was nothing I could do, nothing I can do. I didn’t meant to blurt all that out but I’m just as pissed as Gregory about the way the homeless are treated and how I and my spouse will likely be treated. I ask your prayers for anyone who is homeless. I ask you to help them if you can wherever you are. You will know if they are only abusing your kindness, most won’t. I apologize to every one.

    1. You have no reason for apologizing for pouring your heart out! I pray you get the help, kindness and anything else you need! May Almighty God look down on you and your wife and give you peace and love! I’m praying for you!

      1. Thank you. A blessing is a precious thing. It’s been a long painful haul. It’s miserable knowing that you are going to lose the house you’ve lived in for 45 years and not know where you’re going or what will happen to your possessions. I know there are some things I would do differently given a way to go back and do things over. Ah, well, life it change, just not always welcome change. Again, thank you.

  18. I can tell you that the same obscene views are over here in the U.K. too. Now that we have a mostly Conservative government it has become more acceptable to voice these opinions, especially in the right wing press. We even have people expressing the view that it is all right to let refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan drown in the Mediterranean in over-crowded boats run by organised crime gangs, because they should have stayed at home. It’s therefore their own fault. Thank God we don’t have legislation to stop people feeding the homeless but it could come I guess. I agree with everything that has been said here. But I can’t make up my mind whether to cry at the sad stories, or be glad that you all feel the way you do. And then there’s the anger too! Going to have a confused day! By the way, I have a friend who used to volunteer to work with the homeless every Christmas and they were advised never to give a homeless person money because they probably wanted it for booze or drugs. She told me that she only ever gives people food and drink, so I do the same now.

  19. Reblogged this on Rise Like Air and commented:
    Sadly it is often the comments section of an article like you describe that shows just how far our society has yet to go. I hold the hope that most of the non commenters hold a more realistic and compassionate view of homeless people, and people who are in need. I have started to use the term “people who are homeless” rather than “the homeless” to always remind myself they are people first and foremost, homeless second. The haters really need to walk a mile or 10 in someone else’s shoes, preferably a pair that don’t fit so well and have a few holes.

    They also need to read Mad Man Knitting as well as Dennis Carduff’s Gotta Find a Home blog (or recently released book) which can be found at

    Just maybe they’ll start to see the plight of being homeless through open and honest eyes. Maybe they’ll even find a morsel of compassion. We can hope.

  20. I saw that in the news myself just this morning. It made my heart ache. If the measure of a society is how well it cares for the ones who can’t care for themselves… what does this say about us?

    So glad you are pushing back.

  21. Greg I want you to know that this so outraged me that I went an found the story and posted it on face book. I also posted your blog post on Facebook and Instagram. I want people to be outraged so we can put a stop to this!

  22. AMEN!!

    I have spent most of my life teetering on the edge between poverty and homeless, but God has always blessed me with a place to call home.

    I can’t say that I agree that it is easier being a woman in this situation. Our current society tends to stereotype poor and homeless women as lazy and immoral, spitting out babies because they’ll have sex with every man that passes by, just so they can live off of child support. Once, when I was applying for aid, I was told it would be ‘easier’ for me and my daughter if I divorced my husband and kicked him out, because it would makes us ‘look more desperate’ on paperwork. (No, thanks, I’ll keep my vows!)

    I’ve been in several food banks, both as a giver and as a receiver. While volunteering at one food bank, I watched as the volunteer at the sign-in desk ranted about each person that came in: “Nobody that drives a nice car needs free food!” “If you can afford a cell phone, you don’t need help!” “That lady dresses too nice to be poor.”

    I finally had to speak out, to both the volunteer and the food bank manager.” Why does that man have a nice car? It’s because he bought it back in better times. He needs reliable transportation to work or look for work; why sell that nice car for a beater that will always need repairs? Most employers require that you provide a phone number on your application, and a disposable cell phone is inexpensive. Finally, just because I’m poor, it doesn’t mean that I need to walk around wearing filthy rags! Did you ever consider that she dresses that way so she can apply for jobs?”

    I wish people who hand out the unsolicited “Get a job!” advice could see how difficult it is to actually get a job. I became unemployed last June, and I just started at a new job on October 27, in spite of sending out a minimum of 5 job applications a day. My husband received his last paycheck on July 15. He has yet to be able to find a job, but he keeps looking – and praying.

    I’m not looking for sympathy, for there are millions of people in the same or worse condition. Whenever I see that man on the street corner, holding out a cardboard sign, I empty my pockets. Sometimes it’s only some coins, but I know that the world won’t get any better if I withhold even what little I have.

    What I pray for is that our society becomes less, “Me! Me! Me” and more, “I love you, neighbor; how can I help you?”

  23. Well, Gregory, that’s the Republican Party for you, in a nutshell! It’s so discouraging to see mobs of voters supporting these irresponsible haters.

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