I wish others would find some grubby shoes and try them on for a while.
By Marilyn Mackenzie
What is that saying attributed to Native-Americans? Unless you have walked in the moccasins of another, you will never understand? I am starting to understand.
I understand the anger of my cousin who has been homeless for many years. Others don’t understand how a man with a master’s degree in psychology can end up homeless. I certainly understand that. The “system” made him homeless.
Shame on him…for being a professional who cared more about his patients than the worker’s compensation commission. When one insurance company shunned him, the others knew and shunned him as well. Shame on him for caring.
Shame on that man for trying to find equal work and failing. Then shame on him for succumbing to his homelessness and hungry stomach, and trying to find another career.
Imagine a man of his education deciding to become a truck driver. Then, imagine how frightened he was when paired with another new driving school graduate whose skills were not enough to warrant him driving all over the country. Imagine my cousin’s anger when his company told him he had to stay with that incompetent driver or be fired.
More than ever, I understand that cousin’s anger at the world. I understand that he still holds grudges against a company that wronged his father. Anger grows and multiplies when we are continually hurt and wronged. I understand.
I understand, too, how unworthy it must have made him feel to be passed from friend to friend, from relative to relative. The world around us defines individuals by their occupations, by their jobs and their income. Someone without a job is, therefore, considered less worthy in the eyes of many, even friends and relatives. For a short while, they pretend to care and will open their homes and their hearts. However, if one does not behave as they expect, those same friends and relatives become sorry that they opened their homes to the homeless one. And the homeless one must move on.
I understand that hiding alone and reading is an activity in which no one else can participate. One can hide alone, can fantasize, and can dream of a better world, while reading or writing. Although they can belittle you and verbally criticize you, others cannot intrude on one’s dreams.
Another individual shows anger at the “system” because of some of his own failings. Yes, he was imprisoned for driving while drunk. He served his time, though. However, the world is an unforgiving place, indeed.
Each job application merely asks if he has ever been convicted of a felony. It doesn’t ask if he’s dishonest or if he was imprisoned for being so. It does not ask if he was imprisoned for using weapons against someone. Job applications only ask if you have been convicted of a felony. They don’t ask for explanations, or care at all about your offence or if you have been rehabilitated.
We should not be surprised that “criminals” such as this are angry. Once they held decent jobs and earned decent wages. When they are released from prison, their chances of holding good jobs are very rare. Indeed, is it any wonder that these “criminals” find their ways back to prison? They have continued to be in prison, even in our free world.
Although my world has not always been wonderful, I have never been an angry person. I have also never understood angry people. But, I’m beginning to understand now.
It would be easy to be angry at the system that let me down. Or at friends and relatives who wonder what I have done wrong to deserve such treatment. But I cannot be angry.
I remain “Ms. Merry Sunshine.” I remember the blessings each day brings, in spite of problems all around.
However, I can understand better those who are angry. Perhaps that is one reason God has allowed me to experience being poor and homeless myself.
I wish others would take up some grubby shoes and try them on for a while. I wish they would try living without a job or the prospect of a job, without insurance or the ability to see a doctor even though they are ill. They just might be less judgmental and more understanding if they did.