A friend of mine came to our homeless village recently. She said she was literally shaking after reading some of the things people said about the homeless and me.
Humans that feel sheltered by the anonymity of social media say some pretty shocking things.
"They are all drug addicts."
That's the number 1 thing people say that have no interest in trying to actually solve problems of homelessness.
They very clearly will tell you, on social media, that they should all just die.
In a way, I respect that honesty.
It's an actual solution instead of what our government does by just taking down homeless camps and offering no alternatives.
Hitler had the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question." It referred to the mass murder of Europe's Jews.
These people are very clearly proposing the Final Solution of the Homeless Question. I am quite sure Hitler would have approved.
Thankfully, we currently live in a society that does not permit mass genocide. So, killing all the homeless people isn't going to happen.
We also can't just throw them in jail. Because, you see, they have done nothing illegal. Being poor isn't currently a criminal offense. Plus, our jails are already full of drug addicts. So we'd have to start building a lot more jails which are really expensive to build and run.
So, we can't kill them and we can't round them all up and put them in concentration camps.
I'm sorry to say, we are only left with one move: We have to deal with them.
Homelessness is not a housing issue. It is a community issue.
Many chronically homeless people are homeless not because they simply can't get into a house. They are homeless because they have been pushed to the periphery of society.
They have been cast out like lepers of times long gone by.
They are judged and hated. Because of this judgement and hatred we can't see our way clearly to actually contemplate a solution.
The ONLY way we will solve homelessness is to start by erasing the judgement and hatred.
The easiest way to remove judgement and hatred is to see these people in ourselves.
People like to hate the homeless for two main reasons: They think they are all lazy and they think they are all drug addicts.
I could talk till I'm blue in the face about how those stereotypes are 100% false. But that rarely changes anyone's mind.
If you think a homeless person is lazy you are completely uneducated on what exactly homelessness is.
Today, however, I'd like to talk for a minute about addiction.
Addiction comes in many forms. Over eating. Social media. Gambling. Sex. Not exercising. Exercising too much. Obsession with our looks. Anger. And of course: drugs and alcohol.
But these are all just symptoms of the real addiction we all are plagued with. We are all addicted to our rigid way of thinking.
It is yes or no thinking. It is my way or the highway thinking. It is in-group / out-group thinking.
Richard Rohr calls this Dualistic thinking. Either / or.
It is based solely on our ego. "We know best."
This dualistic thinking is what keeps us from transforming and moving closer to enlightenment. It keeps us separate from our planet, our fellow humans. It keeps us separate from God.
For example, I am quite certain someone will write a response to this article in a Facebook comment that I don't understand the Truth of God. That I am not following Jesus the "right" way. This kind of belief is its own kind of addiction. "My way is the right way."
This literal form of Christianity, I'm sorry to say, is just the first rung of a spiritual journey.
But it is an excellent example of dualistic thinking about a topic as expansive and endless as God.
I believe we will only solve brutally complicated problems such as homelessness and addiction by starting at a place of thinking greater than ourselves. You can call it whatever you want: community, mysticism, spirituality, (whatever form of religion you like as long as it is a loving religion), God. The word does not matter.
What matters is breaking down egocentric thinking.
If I am right and you are wrong then we will never find a way forward together.
But if I forget about myself and contemplate on you then we are on to something. We are beginning a path of recovery and transformation and true salvation.
Then and only then can we "Repent" as Christians like to shout in our faces these days.
But I would like to add to that conversation by reminding our Christian brothers and sisters that the word repent comes from the Greek word "Metanoia"
Repentance or Metanoia truly means making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction.
We all need to start facing a new direction. Or if we have begun that transformation we then must continue moving further and further down that path.
Let go of our addiction to judgement and ego and duality.
You see "facing a new direction" means stop looking at others through a filter of our own judgments and egos. Turn around and look at others with no judgement with no lens. Just observe. Just contemplate.
Then and only then will we begin to have any hope of moving forward solving the complicated problems of society such as homelessness.