Then read the comment copied below, which was left on the article by someone calling himself J_R_K, who starts by quoting the article:
“There’s a lot of people that are just victims of circumstance and they didn’t go homeless because they’re lazy or... it could be a divorce, one thing leads to another and the man sells his boat, his home, everything, and all of a sudden he finds out he’s got no money. There’s a lot of good people that are homeless.”
The following is a true story. But, given that it's kind of ... what should I call it... a .. well.. let's just say that if I thought anyone reading it knew who I really am, I wouldn't be telling it here :o) It's a little lengthy, so, don't read it if you don't have a mind to.
I got out of the army shortly after a divorce. My final pay voucher said "no pay due" because Uncle Sam took back the BAQ money the wife had collected. I had to walk off post. I hit the highway and hitchhiked with no home to go to. Finally found a minimum wage job, then another one. I worked 16 hours a day, but when I got the first two paychecks, together they were not enough to pay a months rent and utility deposit in advance. I ended up facing the winter of 78-79 with nothing but a beat up old car. Christmas Eve, 1978, both places where I worked we closed. I spent the day sitting in the car with no gas, watching ice buildup on the windows. No cigarettes, no coffee, nothing to eat, no where to go or be.
Shortly after noon, on Christmas day, still sitting in the car, I turned on the radio and Paul Harvey was on, talking about a girl (I missed her name and location) who, when she was 16, wanted to marry. But, she had two older sisters, and tradition said that if she married before them, they were officially old maids. So her mom and dad refused her permission to marry. She threatened to elope, so they locked her up in the "root cellar"... "As time went on, both her parents passed away. But her two sisters kept her locked up in the cellar. They taunted her, mocked her, laughed at her. They gave her scraps to eat and no clothing. When authorities found her last week, she was bent over at the waste. She was naked and emaciated. Her fingernails and toenails were 6 inches long. Her hair was dragging the ground. She had leprosy. She was totally insane. She was 45 years old." ... that's probably not exact, but I can still hear Paul Harvey talk about her as if it were yesterday.
I looked out my car window at the ice and snow, and I knew that whatever my condition, I was 29 years on the sane side of better off than that woman.
The only thing I had to read was a Bible someone had given me. I decided, it was something to do, so I opened it up. I wouldn't recommend this process for Bible Study, but I opened it up and read the first thing my eyes fell upon, It said: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
That same night, an old black man in Topeka, Ks crawled into a school bus to get out of the cold and froze to death. Shortly after that, another older black man who happened to hang out in all the time a liquor store next to the place where I worked my evening job took notice of my situation, came to me and offered me an old two room shack (3 if you count the tiny bathroom) to live in. He paid the utility deposit himself, asked for no deposit, and when I was late with the first months rent, he never asked me where it was.
I have since done ok. I worked both jobs until I could find one that paid well enough to meet the bills by it's self. I got married again, had kids, today I have great kids and grandkids. I am retired now. I learned a couple of things that winter. I learned that when a man has absolutely nothing left in life accept his ability to face the world with no shame in his eyes, there's someone out there who'll take even that away from him. Often, it's a woman. But I also learned this: There are many blessings in this life, if we are sharp enough to see them. There is much to be grateful for, no matter our condition. To live in self-pity and ingratitude for those blessings we do receive is like putting one foot in front of the other, headed in a direction that leads to failure in this life and hell in the next. Just a couple of other things I learned... they say "life isn't fair".. but that's not true. Sooner or later, it knocks us all on our backsides. Sooner or later, we all need help... and there are people out there who provide that help, sometimes from the most unexpected of sources. Who would have thought that an alcoholic, cigar smoking old black man hanging out in a liquor store all day every day, playing cards with men just like himself would offer shelter, at his own expense, to a young white man who just wasn't cutting it.
“There’s a lot of people that are just victims of circumstance and they didn’t go homeless because they’re lazy or … it could be a divorce, one thing leads to another and the man sells his boat, his home, everything, and all of a sudden he finds out he’s got no money. There’s a lot of good people that are homeless.”
Amen to that, Thomas. It may not always be a mistake to judge on the basis of appearance, but when it is a mistake, it's a huge mistake.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Same to you, J_R_K. Same to you.