[Hpn] Homeless people make one think;Column;by James Boyd;Indiana Daily Student;6/28

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Sat, 30 Jun 2001 14:32:20 -0400


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-------Forwarded column-------

Thursday, June 28, 2001
Indiana Daily Student
Opinion section
Column
By James Boyd <joboyd@indiana.edu>

IDS COLUMNIST

Homeless people make one think
<http://www.idsnews.com/story.php?id=5038>

James Boyd <http://www.idsnews.com/profile.php?byline=James+Boyd>
is a senior majoring in journalism.


Published Thursday, June 28, 2001
Updated 08:09:09 PM


His shoes have seen better days. If you look close
enough, you can see

the heel coming undone, creating some kind of
"flop" with every step he takes. You can see that he
hasn't taken a razor to his face in God knows how
many weeks, and who knows when the last time his
dirty fist held a bar of soap.

It seems like every day that I see him. Whether it's
a passing glance in the library, or strolling through
the Union, our paths always seem to intersect.

I'm sure many of you have had the same
experience.

He is homeless. Of that much I am sure. You see
his dirty hair, filthy shoes and wonder what has
become of this man. Most simply ignore him and the
silent pleas he casts from behind mirrored
sunglasses. Maybe they hide the shame in his eyes,
maybe they block the ridicule that is whispered
behind his back. But underneath the ratty shirt and
the dirty cap is a human being, a soul that is part of
this community that cannot be ignored.

Maybe it's Steve. Maybe it's John. I don't know his
name. But for the past year, I've watched him. I
see him immersed in a paperback, quietly sipping a
cup of coffee from the downstairs cafeteria. I see
students scurry away from him, as if he carried
some form of the plague. And perhaps most
disturbingly, I see them ignore a problem that grips
our community like a vice.

Homelessness is as real as any drug epidemic that
might be sweeping the county. Our very own
citizens have no place to stay. Shelter Inc., a local
organization dedicated to helping those in need,
reported helping more than 1,300 individuals in 1997.
Thirteen hundred people looking for a place to stay.

Something is wrong here.

We're part of the problem. We students make for a
competitive environment in local real estate
ventures, and guess who usually comes out on top?
Let me put it this way, how many homeless students
do you hear about?

All the while he walks around campus, slowly
treading the grounds, slowly hoping that one day,
one fateful day, he might find a place to call home.

It's easy to ignore him when you're talking on your
cell phone, hiding behind $200 sunglasses.

But somewhere, deep down inside of you, I hope
that he's eating at your conscience. I'll never forget
the voice that emerged from his mouth when I
casually handed him a $5 bill months ago.

"Oh," he said; a bit shocked that someone had
actually taken the time to say something to him.
"Thanks."

And that was it. A conversation that lasted
somewhere in the realm of ten seconds that has had
a lasting impact on my life up until this day. Maybe
he remembers me, maybe he doesn't. But
sometimes, late at night, I wonder what I would do
if I were in his shoes.

Would I have the courage to ask for money? Would
I have the strength to ask for help? Would I have
the dignity left to raise my eyes, avoiding the
fixation toward the ground that a person in such a
position would usually find oneself in?

I just don't know. The tragedy in life is that we even
have to consider such a notion. The possibility that
we might not have a roof above our heads rarely
enters our train of thought, and yet, for so many
people in this town, the idea is a reality that is all too
familiar.

He sleeps on the street, but he is not alone. And
before you run away from him like he was some
sort of monster, picture yourself, if just for a minute,
in those old ragged shoes.

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA




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