Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It Is Not a Person’s God-Given Right to Live On the Street

I get really irritated when I hear this. And I’ve heard it many times. “We can’t take a person off the street. It’s their God-given right to live on the street if they want to.”

When you’re born, you’re given a lot of freedoms. In the U.S., you have freedom of speech, equal opportunity education and jobs, and the freedom to worship your religion of choice. But never does a parent say immediately upon birth “my baby has just as much right to be a homeless crack addict as anyone else.”

Nobody wants that for their child. And when we leave people on the street, we ignore them, turn our backs on them, when we should be helping them.

Recently, in my town, a legless alcoholic in a wheelchair was begging for money in the parking lot of a CVS. This went on for about two weeks before the police chased him away. This man looked like he hadn’t had a bath in months. His clothes were so filthy I would burn them, not wash them. I asked one day why he didn’t go to the shelter. He said he didn’t like the shelter.

Another time, a big woman approached me asking me for a dollar for french fries. When I pulled out the dollar she asked for two. She said she was pregnant and homeless. I said why don’t you go to the shelter. She said they won’t take me because I’m not clean. She looked very clean to me. What she meant was, I’m a drug addict and you have to be clean and sober to live at the shelter. Meanwhile, four hours later the woman apparently still hadn’t gotten her french fries because she was still out there begging when I was leaving the area. She tried to beg from me again and I just help up my hand and said “don’t”.

The thing is, there are these people who are rejected from the system because they want to remain an alcoholic and a drug addict. Or at the very least, they’re not strong enough to give it up.

I think that when someone is homeless, and they have nothing left, and they’re not strong enough to take care of themselves, we should do it for them…whether they want us to or not.

Like this legless guy in the wheelchair. Since he’s disabled, he would easily qualify for a bed at a convalescent center. A permanent warm, dry and clean place to sleep and three square meals a day. But he won’t go because he can’t get the drink there. I think we should pick him up against his will, lock him up in detox for as long as it takes, and while we’re at it, scrub the hell out of him and put clean clothes on him. Who cares if it’s not what he wants today? He’s too sick to know what’s best for him.

Nobody wants to be homeless. Nobody really wants to be a drunk or a drug addict. I know that people would argue where do you draw the line. But sometimes it’s an open and shut case, like with this legless man. If he won’t do it for himself, we should do it for him.

It’s nobody's God-given right to live like a pig or to beg. Technically, it is their right. But this is America. We’re all brethren under God…brothers and sisters in one universe. We’re supposed to be helping our fellow man. And I think there are times when we should be doing it, whether they want to be helped or not. They may not thank us, but God will.

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