But this really isn't a laughing matter. These trigger words that get a reaction from us middle-class folks who are browsing the web while sipping our lattes are actual people with very difficult lives. They didn't choose to be in these marginalized groups. Well, some might have, in a way, by making bad decisions. But nobody goes out in the world and says, "Hey, I think I'll become a drug addict. That sounds good." Transgender people have extremely difficult lives, no matter what their economic circumstances are. And thousands of young men and women are kidnapped every year and sold into prostitution slavery -- many from right here in Portland.
We need to adjust the labels in our minds. Instead of thinking of some people, especially homeless and street people, as losers, failures, scary, dangerous, screwed up, and crazy, we need to recognize them as people, lonely, hurting, lost, victims of bad choices or war or bigotry or corporate downsizing. We don't know their stories, and we're too quick to dismiss them as "not our problem."
They are not problems. They are people with problems. And they are, very much, our business. Every person, no matter what mistakes he's made or difficulties he's endured, deserves to be acknowledged as human. Is entitled to food and water. Deserves dry socks. Every person is a PERSON, not a label or a mistake or an embarrassment.
You know those random acts of kindness people are always talking about, like paying for the coffee for the car behind yours? Those are fun and cheer us up, but how about trying the same thing with someone who's different from us? Someone struggling -- the guy on the corner with the sign, the almost-invisible woman tucked in a doorway under a blanket. How about approaching that kid at church whose parents are so worried about his choices, and asking him how he's doing, what he's interested in, whether he'd like to join you for lunch and get to know one another.
Do something kind, even just a look in the eye and a smile, for someone who most people ignore, and miracles can happen. And thank you for clicking through to my site. : )