We discussed often this week how it is easy for we who are not homeless to have the “us verse them” mentality. We do not think of ourselves on the same level as these individuals to the point of dehumanizing them.
Many believe, and I once did, that those who are homeless bring the problem on themselves. We may believe they are not trying hard enough to get out of their situations or are taking advantage of the systems that give them free food and clothing. But do we know the path that has brought these people to their situations? How have they been hurting? Different people I came in contact with during the week have helped me gain a new perspective.
As I was checking in clients to receive food from the food pantry Safe Haven in a Chicago neighborhood, a man who was homeless informed me that it was his first time at the shelter. He said that his girlfriend and him recently broke up so he was living out of his car and moving from place to place.
Earlier this week we volunteered at New Life Church who worked with helping women out of sex trafficking. The woman who led the organization informed us of a woman they recently saved out of her situation. She was marked all over her body from drugs and appeared close to death. When New Life came to her rescue she accepted help and now she is working towards her college degree.
Another woman who led a pantry we volunteered at used to live on the streets. Now she is serving her community and bringing other individuals out of the situation she was once in.
I don’t know how these individuals got where they are and I don’t know where they are going. I don’t know them at all but they taught me a lot about being human. We all need help in different ways throughout our lives and each struggle will look different and be different for each individual. We don’t choose our circumstances and the way we are the way we are. Because of these facts we have to ask for help and we have to give help. We all have a part to play in the lives around us whether that is accepting help or giving it. We are all on the same level. All humans. All flawed. All different yet all so similar. All important. All unique. All have a purpose on this earth. If we all seek to look at and act toward each human with this mindset I believe it could bring so much more love into the world.
Thank you, Chicago and my fellow trip members, for teaching me this and more.