The Homeless: 39 Questions for Your Reflection

When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking? If you do ignore a homeless person's request for help, just how quickly does the incident evaporate from your mind? Seconds? Minutes? Hours?
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"Seven out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless."
-- Pras Michel

1. When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

2. Do you avoid making eye contact?

3. Is there a sudden selective deafness when you "hear", or don't, their requests for help?

4. If you do ignore a homeless person's request for help, just how quickly does the incident evaporate from your mind?

5. Seconds? Minutes? Hours?

6. What is your honest opinion of these people who are teetering on the very edges of our society?

7. Do they feel that, possibly, they deserve their predicament?

8. Could it be that they are lazy?

9. If so, should they simply get off their lazy rear-ends and look for a decent job?

10. Is it easy to get a job where you live?

11. Do you think it is any easier to get a job, where you live, if you're homeless?

12. Have you considered that there are homeless people who do have regular jobs?

13. Does your suspicion that some of these people might be pulling a con and actually making good money by pretending to be homeless and begging, stop you from helping any of them?


14. Do you feel a sense of disgust or detest the way they smell, look, sound or behave?

15. Do you have any personal experience of homelessness?

16. Could you handle being homeless day after day and keep things together?

17. Would you smell better, behave better or beg less, than a homeless person does, if you did not have a home to go to for the next four weeks?

18. Are the homeless asking for money because, in the main, they want to buy drugs and/or alcohol?

19. If so, is that why you won't help them?

20. Can you see that if you were homeless you might also want to take something to numb your feelings about the situation?

21. Do you think the homeless are completely beyond our ability to help?

22. Is it that they should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps?

23. Would you prefer them to be 'relocated' away from your line of sight so that they can also be put out of your mind?

24. What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

25. Do you see homeless people and hear yourself muttering internal sound bites like, "there but for the grace of God go I"?

26. Are you worried that their craziness, anger or diseases are contagious?


27. Were the homeless born homeless, addicted or mentally ill?

28. How close are you right now to being homeless?

29. How many missed salary payments would it take?

30. How many family members or friends would let you stay at their house?

31. How long would they let you stay?

32. Are you sure about that?

33. What would a bad divorce, redundancy or severe mental illness do to you?

34. Do you have a clear idea of just how far any one of us can fall and how quickly it can happen?

35. Are you immune from losing everything that you care about?

36. What is your response to these people who have less than you or nothing at all?

37. What is your response to a man, or woman, begging for food?

38. Do you help them, smile, offer something, anything, buy them food, stay there for a moment and engage in a conversation?

39. Are you somehow better than the homeless or just better off?


"Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place."
-- Mike Yankoski

Originally published at Kindness Blog by Mike O'Connor.

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