It is difficult for me to write about the topic of homelessness because it brings up many upsetting emotions and past experiences. But I will write anyway and simply accept the pain that will arise.
I ask myself what can I say about this issue that has not yet been said? What contribution can I make?
I was homeless for 15 plus years. I have personal experiences with the injustices that often cause one to live without housing and I also am aware of the ongoing oppression that happens when you are living on the street. Too many human beings in this society are repeatedly victimized in so many ways. And it is late in the day to end this dehumanizing, alienating dynamic.
However, part of what I have learned about my own efforts towards personal and societal liberation is that those most victimized are also those with the deepest knowledge and insights as to the nature of society.
It is one thing to have been victimized. It is another thing to define one’s self as a victim. And the difference is in one’s relation to power. A person who believes they are a victim does not have a powerful relationship to the world around them. And this is a problem because one needs to be powerful in order to move forward in one’s own personal life and equally important one needs to be in a place of power in relation to the oppressive society.
I see no reason why those currently homeless and those who have been can not be at the leading edge of all human liberation movements.
In my own personal life there are very real issues that must get addressed for me to be doing the leadership work in the world that I know I am capable of. I need better housing and I need to deal with some physical health issues and I also need to heal from major traumas.
And yet I am also very clear that on a soul level absolutely nothing needs to change. My soul has never been homeless and never will be. My soul was never abused and is untouchable. My soul has never lived in poverty and never will. That is the nature of the soul.
And the world we live in is dedicated to confusing all of us about this. Nobody needs to change anything at all about their life to create their soul. Poverty does not diminish the soul and wealth does not improve it.
I believe this is critically important for the homeless community to understand because the narrative is that we need something from others. And yes we do in a way. Human beings have real material needs in terms of food, shelter, water, health care, and one needs money in order to access vitally necessary goods and services.
With that said, nobody has more soul than I do. Nobody. And nobody will ever have a deeper, wiser, more compassionate, more creative, braver soul than you.
This truth must be understood and integrated into how one lives their daily lives in order to take on the leadership that we are all capable of. Those who victimized me, and there have been many, were lost themselves. They betrayed their soul by harming me. And many people are so deeply alienated that they do not even see how harmful and stuck they are.
And this is where we come in. There is something sacred about knowing one has been horribly hurt. Once you have been repeatedly abused, betrayed, isolated, scapegoated, incarcerated, drugged, shamed, impoverished, punished and then blamed for how you respond to this ongoing violence you know things about society and you know things about others that are deep, sacred, spiritual insights.
What I am trying to say is that when I go to a social service provider because I need some clothing or food or information about housing that is one thing. I am forced to play a game and to the degree necessary I will play it. But let’s be very clear that this has absolutely nothing to do with me as a human being having been repeatedly abused, and that this is the only reason I am even needing any services in the first place.
It would have been good if I had never been abused as a young person. But I was. It would have been good if others had protected me from the abuse after it started but that did not happen either. It would have been good if after I was sexually, emotionally and physically abused I was given access to healing modalities. But I wasn’t given that support.
And so now I am forced to go to service providers to get basic needs met. This is what it is and I owe it to myself to re-engage with this society to get goods and services that all human beings deserve. I am not going to live in squalor with horrible housing and barely enough money to wash my clothes in a society in which many have extraordinary wealth.
But I am also very grounded in the truth that this is nothing but me working with a racist, classist, violent, sexist, earth-destroying machine.
I spend a great deal of my day returning to the truth of who I really am and the actual conditions I confront every hour of my life. I am kind of wonderfully horrified at how deeply I have internalized self-blame, self-criticism, self-punishment, self-harm.
It is wonderful because I am finally ending that internal dynamic. It is horrifying because I now see just how absolutely chronic the internal diminishment of self is for me and, I assume, for most others.
In fact, the system demands that we diminish ourselves in order to fulfill our basic human needs. The soup kitchens and mental health clinics and shelters and social service agencies and psych hospitals demand, demand, demand that we go there acting small and needy and apologetic and full of shame.
I refuse. I go there grounded in my soul as a vital, blessed, brilliant, passionate, creative, yogi-poet-guru-self expecting other human beings to treat me with the respect, compassion and fundamental decency that I should have been receiving from the day I was born.
And this is the same for you. There is not one iota of difference between who I am at my core and who you are at core. The majority of humanity is asleep at the wheel and we get to do all we can to wake them up. And when they are asleep at the wheel, remember the nature of the vehicle they are driving. It is the vehicle of their humanity and by being asleep they betray their own sacred self and betray all other life around them. They drive recklessly and violently and oppressively and cruelly and this needs to stop as soon as possible and it really does not matter what emotions people need to face in order to finally awaken to their fundamental responsibility to themselves and to society and to the planet.
We need nothing to decide to become the badass spiritual radical revolutionary leaders that the planet is crying for. You will never get a job description giving you permission to do this. You will never get hired to do this. You decide to do this because that is your fundamental nature and it is the greatest gift to yourself and your community to live based on who you truly are.
And I promise you the world will notice. The trees will notice and the pigeon flying down the street will notice and the old man sitting on a bus will notice. And once this happens you are finally employed and housed forever because this is your forever work and your forever home.