Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kingdom of Cardboard

My frequent trips to Los Angeles, Venice in particular, has revealed to me the severity of the homeless population in the area. From the moment you leave Union Station, perhaps even before, you are bound to spot the decrepit, ill-attired folk who carry their life around in an armada of suitcases, a rusted, squealing cart, or simply in their pockets. Like broken machines they lay hunched over themselves, staring blankly into their own soles. They may mumble, beg, or say nothing at all, but to most they say only two words "Help me".

I cannot, in all honesty, provide a cure for their financial situation, and many already dedicate their lives to nourishing their bodies, but I do believe that much can be done.

My first plea is simple, talk to one of them. You may think that many of them mumble to themselves due to a mental disease. However, I believe that many might do it simply out of loneliness, when is the last time you spoke to a homeless person or saw them conversing with others? They retreat into their own minds because this reality provides them nothing except the most meager means of survival. My demand does not require that you are resourceful in anything except friendliness and willingness. Show them that society hasn't completely forgotten about them.

A second demand would be to perhaps motivate them to engage their minds, even in the simplest of senses. An inactive, lethargic mind is nothing, but a decaying corpse of an organ. Find a way to engage them, discuss with them. You might think that they have nothing to say about the world that would interest you, but I, myself, have been proven wrong by even more modest sources.

A third and final request, learn why they are here, learn their story, their reason for being in such a situation. I can almost guaranteed you that, if nothing else, you'll be provided with a deep insight into a spectrum of life that you had probably never even conceived of, let alone experienced.

What is to come of one who agrees to such demands. I do not know. What is the use of doing any of this? I cannot say for certain. Why should I waste my time? To learn, to teach, and to grow. Let their story and their life instill you with a greater appreciation for your own. Engage their mind so that your own mind might be engaged. Learn about them, so that you might learn about yourself. Give them hope, so that you yourself might learn to allow hope to come from the most meager of origins.