Mother Teresa once stated, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. ” People are progressively being victimized for being homeless. Anna Quindlen, 1992’s Pulitzer Prize winner, for her New York Times column, “Public and Private”, evaluates the life of a homeless woman in her essay, “Homeless” (1998). She soon realizes that all homeless people have a different story and urges the reader not to judge them.
Homeless people feel judged when they are stereotyped, mistreated, and misunderstood. To start off with, homeless people often feel criticized when they are stereotyped. A countless number of people believe that homeless people are in their predicament due to laziness. This may be true for some of the homeless, but it does not always hold true. While a majority of the homeless population is unemployed, it doesn’t imply laziness. In today’s society the economy is so bad that a lot of the non-homeless once had a home.
Quindlen quotes, “She had a house, or at least once upon a time had one…”(21) Some believe that most homeless people are criminals. This stereotype is one of the worst about homeless people because it generates an irrational worry towards the homeless. It causes many of the people who would help not to because they are afraid to do so. This common stereotype also makes it difficult for homeless people to get a job or from having a place to live. Residents of a specific area may even object to charitable organizations to be run in their area.
Some people believe that homeless people take things from society and give nothing in return. Although, an alarming number of the homeless currently or are struggling with some sort of addiction, lots of the homeless do not or have not ever had any type of addiction. This stereotype that all homeless people are alcoholics and drug addicts closes opportunities for the homeless. Being stereotyped on false accusations is immoral. Furthermore, the homeless feel condemned when people mistreat them. People may feel a sense of freedom from being homeless but it is a dangerous lifestyle.
The homeless are abused in many different ways; Whether it may be physical, mental, or societal. Teenage boys often think it’s funny to hurt the homeless and often try to reenact “bum fights”. Most of the boys who do these things are typically too young to understand the concept of right and wrong. This makes bullying and abusing the homeless a fun pastime. The homeless are abused by the weather as well. They have to deal with the heat, cold and rain. All these factors also make them more prone to illness that they cannot afford to treat, which leads to death.
The homeless are criminalized for petty offenses, such as sleeping in public and loitering. They have nowhere else to go and authorities take what they think is theirs away from them. Criminalizing the homeless for such offenses frightens people when it is unnecessary to be afraid. The legislation makes it illegal to sleep, sit, or barricade personal belongings in public. Officials make it hard for the homeless to have a place to call their own, whether it’s a box or a bench in the park. In the words of Quindlen, “.. Pride of ownership. ” (23) Not allowing the homeless to partake in voting is a serious issue.
Homeless people aren’t given many opportunities to voice their opinion, but with voting they have a chance for their voices to be heard. The right to vote shouldn’t be taken away unless you are a criminal, not homeless. Homeless people are mistreated in many different ways. Most importantly, the homeless feel ridiculed when people misunderstand them. Statistics show that 1 in 7 homeless people once served in the military. This demonstrates that the reason for becoming homeless varies. One reason people become homeless is divorce. Lots of people get everything taken during divorce trials, leaving them without a home, “homeless”.
Some people get laid off work and believe they can find another job, but are never able to, and once they become homeless it’s hard for them to get on top. People tend to turn a deaf ear to reality, which is that not all homeless people are bad. Lots of homeless people are ashamed of the lifestyle they are living. Some won’t admit they are actually homeless. Quindlen states that the homeless woman she speaks with says, “She said I was wasting my time talking to her; she was just passing through, although she’d been passing through for more than two weeks. (21) Some people believe that they choose to live that way. However, no normal person wishes to live in such a way. Although some of the homeless may seek help, they may be ashamed to do so. They are looked down upon in many different circumstances. The attire they are forced to wear is an automatic turn-away, scaring people away. How filthy and skinny they are also has decides how a person chooses to perceive them. The homeless are misunderstood for many reasons. At times, homeless people feel judged, such as, when they are stereotyped, when they are mistreated, and when they are misunderstood.
Quindlen does a great job of persuading the reader not to judge the homeless. She makes the reader believe that every person has their own story and that not every homeless person is worthless. People shouldn’t be so quick to judge another individual. Until one has walked in another’s shoes, they have not any room to judge. People that are more fortunate than others should also put forth more effort in helping the less-fortunate. They should take chances. Wouldn’t everyone want the same treatment?
Quindlen, Anna. “Homeless. ” Blueprints for writing. Pam Mathis. Ohio: Cengage, 2014