Homeless Problem Fantasia
What if – and we know this is far-fetched and vaguely absurd – what if every person in Los Angeles who has the means and the space were to “adopt” a non-violent, non-alcoholic, perfectly harmless homeless person, giving that man or woman (or family?) a place to sleep and bathe that’s not a freeway underpass?
What if the donor could set the ground rules, dictate the terms?
What if, in a utopian scenario, welcoming a homeless person into your space was only slightly weirder than welcoming into your space a cousin from Milwaukee you only met once before, at a childhood wedding? Potentially awkward; totally manageable, probably. And you would do it, because that’s what family does for family. So, what if we slightly enlarged our conception of “family” and everyone who has a spare guesthouse on their property, or an empty bedroom in their house, or an expansive lawn to pitch a tent – what if we all were to foster family a homeless person?
You can surely find a million reasons why this scheme wouldn’t work and can’t work, and some of them might be true, but let’s just imagine for the sake of discussion the scenario proposed: You’ve got some extra room at your crib/backyard/estate, you allow someone to live there, rent-free, for the simple reason you want to love your fellow man as much as you might an adopted puppy, or a lizard you rescued from a lawnmower incident. What would happen to “the homeless problem,” we wonder?
Too bad it’s all too challenging: the logistics, the security, the hygiene. Too bad this isn’t easy. Because if it were, surely we’d all be doing it, right?
We’ve got the spirit, that’s obvious. Every other day someone you know proudly announces ”a new member of our family” procured from the neighborhood cat shelter, or a Guatemalan adoption agency, and sometimes even the streets. We have a great aptitude for generosity, that’s for sure. It’s just that puppies are way cuter than some homeless dude. Fluffy wins.
You know how good it feels when you rescue a three-month-old terrier-poodle from the pound? Instead of buying from a breeder, you literally saved this little girl’s life. You know how good that feels? And when she looks you in the eyes and somehow tells you how grateful she is that you chose her, this sloppy little muppet, to be your baby, you know how intense that feels? The love?
Imagine what it might feel like to do the same thing for a human being.
How would you feel about yourself? That you were too generous? Too Christ-like in caring for the least among ye?
Or might you feel pretty darn grateful for being able to help a stranger, grateful for the chance to be a giver of kindness, grateful to be blessed with abundance and with a will to share the goodness?
It’s a nice fantasy.