What has happened to America’s soul? The Bible teaches us to “love thy neighbor,” but all we seem to do is talk at each other, argue to the minutia, look out for number one, and cocoon ourselves behind locked doors and gated communities from the larger world outside.
Most distressing of all, a significant proportion of the nation including many elected leaders appear not to give a rat’s ass about the needy, the helpless, the homeless, and those without a monetary voice in Washington or state capitals. While the delicate petals of compassion shrivel under a merciless dry spell of empathy, the spike-sharp thorns of hate and fear sprout almost overnight all across the countryside. Each time selfish is chosen over selfless, the beautiful sea of love draws back further from its tender, sandy shores.
Just yesterday evening, I was approached by a homeless man while filling up my car at a gas station outside a large local retailer. I handed him seven dollars, for which he was very thankful, kind, and appreciative. The gentleman at the adjacent pump rebuffed his request for help and the homeless man continued on his way through the adjacent parking lot.
Why do so many forsake simple acts of compassionate love? They can bring such joy, harmony, and peace to those who may be lonely or suffering. Just a few thoughtful words, a caring act, or a kind deed can make a huge difference to someone who is in pain. Believe me, I know from recent personal experience. I am grateful everyday for those few kind-hearted individuals who have helped carry me through, including my blog partner, Molly.
Perhaps it will take a flood of tears from heaven to wash away the selfish behavior in this country. Heaven knows, we certainly deserve a cleansing of our sorry, selfish souls. But, my hope is that if each of us would resolve to make one empathetic and kind act each day, others will begin to join in. Selfless acts of love beget more selfless acts of love. Such a simple concept with the potential for far-reaching benefits both on Earth and through eternity.
I would never hand a homeless person cash, because I realize 80% of the homeless are in that position because they are addicts. I am afraid they would take the cash straight to their dealer. Food, however, or blankets or things of that nature is a great idea for people who want to be more charitable.
According to HUD’s 2010 annual report on homelessness, only 34% of sheltered homeless are substance abusers. I think your 80% is an overstatement especially in light of the foreclosure crisis and economy. http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/5thHomelessAssessmentReport.pdf
You might be thinking of the rules imposed at some shelters. I know the mission here disallows people to take shelter if they fail a drug test or are viably drunk. It’s probably more difficult to keep accurate stats on the homeless that can’t stay at said shelters, which would account for HUD’s lower numbers–just a guess.
I watch a lot of documentaries (check out “Skid Row” and “American Drug War. . .” for 2 good examples and a lot of statistics) as well as “Intervention” which is where I got the info.
Here is a paragraph from a comprehensive rehab website as well:
Besides not having a home to call their own, most of the 500,000 to 3 million people identified as homeless have something else in common – addiction and mental illness. According to one study, up to two-thirds of homeless adults suffer from alcoholism and at least half suffer from drug disorders. In their book, A Nation In Denial, Alice Baum and Donald Burnes shatter many of the myths surrounding the root causes of homelessness, which have little to do with the economy, governmental social policies, lack of affordable housing, and so forth. According to their research, at least 65-85% of all homeless adults suffer from chronic alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, or some combination of the three, often complicated by serious medical problems. At least one third of the homeless suffer from severe and persistent chronic psychiatric disorder. Forty to fifty percent of these individuals are “dually diagnosed” – suffering from addiction to alcohol and or drugs as well.