Gandhi said the true measure of a society is how it treats the lowest among them. Our society has failed miserably. The homeless that line the streets are not all strung out on drugs. Many fell down on their luck and never got the hand they needed to get back up.
I remember the first time I saw a tent village. I was in Washington DC about a five minute walk from the capital building and there it was. Impossible to ignore, a miniature neighborhood developing under the bridge of K Street completely made of tents. I was appalled. How could such a community exist within the nation’s Capital, just minuets from the Capitol building?
I didn’t know that that community I stumbled upon one late night was but a pion in comparison to the tent cities that exist in Los Angeles, California. I moved to Los Angeles, exactly one year ago today, October 1, 2019 with my fiancé Kaiayre. America was on the precipice of change, only we didn’t know it yet. We moved two months before COVID-19 hit American shores.
I will never forget the shear sense of fear that overcame me- as the leader, the head-of-household, the man- when I first heard that everything was shutting down in March. I had just lost my wallet en route to a job interview and we had nothing, not even $1. As a man I felt like a failure. I know she was more scared than I was only I couldn’t let mine show because I’m supposed to be the strong one. I’m not perfect though and there are times when I am weak. This was one of those times. I know however, that I am one of millions of homeless persons that know that same sense of fear.
It disrupts your sleep, your eating habits, and your sanity. It’s no way to live especially not in the richest country in the world.
Kaia and I met a woman two days ago who was 69 years old in age and about 89 in appearance. Her clothes were all wet and she asked my fiancée and I if we had any clothes for her to wear. My fiancée and I went back to our hotel room and found her two outfits between the two of us. However as she spoke to us I had to fight back tears. All I could see were my grandmothers and my own mother, the ones who don’t even care about me in the way I deserve, in her place. I wasn’t sad but angry. This woman spoke with so much love about the family that was leaving her in the streets. She spoke of her children and grandsons as if they still come to check on her every Sunday after church. It was heartbreaking. She could barley walk with her walker, she weighed no more than 90 lbs, and she was soaking wet from the rain the night before. All she asked for was some warm clothes.
This is unacceptable in 2020 and beyond. We have more technology and innovation than anytime in human history and yet we are wasting our energies on new phones, laptops, and gear. We have no regard for our fellow man. We care more about earning money and getting rich than the souls that are crying out for help all around us.
Her story isn’t just her story its our story the story of all of us.