Behind a row of businesses on a busy main thoroughfare in Fremont, homeless people are camping out in a stand of trees. Once in a while, the police will get a call from one of these businesses complaining about these people. The patrol car shows up, and the vagrant is "shooed away".
During a recent thunderstorm and the resultant downpour, one of the ladies working at one of these businesses opened the backdoor and invited an elderly homeless man into the shop to wait out the passing storm. She said that he was thin and frail, small and fragile, old and tired.
And she said that he only had one shoe.
The great irony in this story is that the shop the old man took refuge in was a shoe store.
This story, and the plight of this man, has bothered me so much since I heard it, that I couldn't sleep last night for thinking of it. So I laid quiet and still in the pitch dark with an open notebook on my stomach, and I wrote my thoughts to the blackness of the night.
What follows might be random and scattered, emotional, or unpolished, but it's what flowed (unseen) from my pen...
The reality is stark. It's unbeautiful, often dirty, and it smells. It's hungry, and cold, and alone. It's hopelessness magnified. It's defeat consumed. It's difficult for society to look homeless humanity directly in the eye. It makes us flinch and look away. We blame the victim for their predicament; we find excuses for their existence; we will the ugly reality to go away, where it won't be seen, where we won't have to watch the silent struggle.
Local ladies working so valiantly for overseas charity and relief can feel all warm and fuzzy about their endeavors because they haven't actually looked in the face of the afflicted. Why do we ignore what's right before us? We reach across the ocean to give comfort and aid and assistance, but we won't open the back door and offer refuge from the rain.