My dad taught me many important qualities growing up. The most critical lesson he instilled in me was to treat everyone with kindness, no matter their circumstance.
Growing up in Southern California I was exposed to more than just sunny weather and beach waves. California represents a quarter of the homeless population in the United States, which totals 151, 278individuals. I was exposed to this plight of homeless people on a daily basis.
Near my high school, a fairly middle to upper-class area, stood one homeless person on every street corner. Sometimes there were multiple individuals fighting for one spot because every block for a few miles was taken. Worst of all was driving through downtown San Diego and observing the rows of tents that they called home. My heart always went out to these suffering individuals asking for a day’s work or a couple of bucks to feed themselves.
553,742 individuals in the United States experience homelessness on any given night. The United States Department of Housing and Urban development estimates that 50% of the homeless population experienced some kind of substance abuse, mental illness or psychiatric disorder that enabled them to build a stable life for themselves. Without proper help these individuals are not given a fair chance to rebuild their lives.
The most tragic part to me is the stigma towards the homeless population. Most people I’m around simply say, “Well they did it to themselves,” and turn a blind eye from the problem right in front of them.
I will present a scenario to you. A young adult joins the armed forces, is sent to another country but returns to the US with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have no way of dealing with their pain because their country did not advise them a way to do so safely. Instead they find their way to drugs, a way to numb the suffering they are feeling. This results in extreme drug abuse and eventually homelessness. In the end, most of the homeless population lacks the proper ways to get help and therefore cannot rebuild their life successful.
Homelessness is not always the individual’s fault. In most cases they lost control of their body and their mind, and without proper help they were never able to get back on their feet.
Kindness can present itself in many forms. Maybe it will be giving a homeless person your spare change, leftover food or bag of supplies such as toothbrush, socks and granola bars. Even things such as “How are you doing today?” will brighten the day of someone who receives a lack of kindness.
Homelessness is a serious issue in the United States. The first step in resolving this problem starts with every person holding themselves accountable for their actions and ultimately showing kindness to those who need it the most.