“I’m not a bum, I’m a human being.”

This video is a couple years old, but it’s worth sharing again:

Before I go on moralizing and lecturing like I normally do, let me admit some shame of my own in relation to homelessness.

Three days out of the week, I deliver to downtown Cincinnati and three days out of the week, I am almost guaranteed to encounter a homeless individual standing on the street corner, holding their sign, often with a book bag and sometimes with even a dog. Most of the time, I’d say the demographic is young, perhaps an even split of men and women.

And as it happens, I often end up right next to them in my truck, as I’m stopped by the red light. Without fail, I try to avert my eyes. I’m afraid to make eye contact with them. Not because I’m afraid of them, but I’m afraid of them asking me for money. Not because I wouldn’t give them any, mind you, but because I don’t carry cash, so I worry they’ll think I’m just another asshole that doesn’t want to give any.

It’s a small thing, but I always feel bad every time I pretend they’re not standing there. As if they aren’t a human being.

Like Ronald Davis says in the above video, you lose a lot of your being sitting there begging, shaking a cup, asking for money.

But, to start moralizing again, I think it’s simple, yo. Poor people, homeless people, these are easy targets. It’s easy to talk down and to look down. So, we call them bums. We call them addicts. We call them degenerates. We call them scum. And any other manner of degrading their being.

The kicker, however, is 1.) We don’t know their situation and what landed them there and 2.) Circumstances could careen into our reality, causing us to be in a similar state, so probably best not to cast stones.

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