Jun 15, 2009

Bad Uncle SAMericans: A Five Bedroom House With A Five Car Garage but No Room For A Homeless Person

Moral: Put the car and the dog outside, and bring a person inside.

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that 'Uncle Samerican homeowners', in many instances, own 4 to 5,000 square feet homes with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 car garages, not to forget that some Americans own multiple dwellings and vacation homes too boot.

Their garages alone, are about the size of what used to be the average size of an American home. And oftentimes the garages are finished, heated and also include insulation and drywall.

I have been on the inside of garages that are more attractive than the interiors of houses where many of American’s permanent underclass are forced to reside. So what is wrong with owning a home with 5 bedrooms and a 5 car garage?

The problem is that while many Americans place their expensive automobiles, leaf blowers, jet skis, the family dog, motorcycles… inside of their frequently heated wall to wall carpeted garages, there are as many women, children, crippled, dispossessed, elderly and blind citizens living outside in the streets.

I was walking down Market Street in South San Jose last week when I noticed a fence surrounding an area that contained discarded trash. On the outside of the fence sat an empty wheelchair. And lying down on the ground to the side of his wheelchair was a homeless man who had apparently slept there on the ground and in the trash throughout the night.

I began to wonder to myself, what is wrong with our society and why is it that we place more value on our personal possessions than on human life? How can we permit other human beings to live under such squalid conditions?

Many American families have separate outside houses built for their dogs, and still many times their pets remain indoors with the rest of the family. What is wrong with a society that will permit an animal (cat, dog, python, monkey or hamster to sleep inside of a warm house), and let another human being live outside in the elements?

I also observed an elderly black woman sitting at the bus stop last week at the intersection of First and Santa Clara Streets with a suitcase that may have contained all of her worldly possessions. She was waiting for the bus to arrive so that she could get in out of a chilly Bay Area night.

Just over a month ago, I noticed from the bus that I was riding on a man who had been sitting (day after day) at the same bus stop (in Cupertino California). On the days when it rained he simply opened up his umbrella and continued to sit as the buses and cars continued to pass him by. Even at night he slept in the same spot. He appeared to be wearing 3 or 4 pairs of pants in order to keep his lower body warm.

Whenever a bus arrived, the drivers would simply stop the buses on the opposite side of the bus bench, rather than open the door in front of the disheveled homeless man with matted hair. I got off of the bus one day and walked up and spoke with the man. He was very cordial, even though he did not have very much to say.

So again I ask, what is wrong with a society where believers and non-believers alike will return to their 4 and 5,000 square foot suburban and inner-city homes with 4 and 5 car heated garages, having passed by their sisters and brothers living in the streets so that they can park themselves and their automobiles and pets inside of a warm house or a garage? The same individuals could provide aid and comfort to a homeless person throughout the night. Do you get it, for in one night, Americans could eliminate homelessness forever from our land?

Let me repeat what I said before, there are automobiles sitting up in warm garages throughout the night while at the same time there are people, many elderly, living outdoors in America’s streets and alleyways.
Let this be a wake up call to all who claim to believe in the social dimension of Christ’s ministry, many of the same individuals who often repeat the story of the Good Samaritan. The question I ask is this, are you a good or a bad [Samerican]?

Neither 'Jesus nor the Good Samaritan (dog)' would have countenanced this kind of behavior or ignored this kind of human suffering. Either one of them would have done something to help a homeless person.

And even though they did not have automobiles or garages during their lifetimes, if they were here today I can assure you that the car and the pet would be in the driveway, and the homeless person would either be living in the house or sleeping in one of the 5-car insulated, heated and well decorated or ventilated garages or garage ports. Where are the 'Good Uncle Samericans'?

What other story does this remind me of? It reminds me of the story of a baby that was born 2000 years ago. There wasn't any room in the Inn for him either, so he ended up being born in a manger (let's call it a garage for animals). This same child later grew up only to be homeless. As an adult he said: the foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.

Why did Jesus speak these words? He did so because he was allowed by his fellow men and women to be homeless too!
I am also reminded that he left the earth by way of a cross! This is the storied life of an individual who gave so much to so many others right down until today (people that he fed, clothed, healed, ministered to...and is still ministering vicariously to today)!

Many Americans are living their entire lifetimes in the manner that Jesus did, without a place to be born, homeless as an adult, and leaving the earth crucified.

American Christians may not believe in post-modern theology, but clearly something is wrong with their current theology, a theology that permits them to turn their backs on their fellow human beings as they over-indulge in excesses. Why do Christian Samericans who pretend to lament the sufferings of Jesus Christ and identify with the Good Samaritan, ignore the suffering of their fellow human beings? For truly, what they did or did not do for the least of his little ones, Jesus said, they also did or neglected to do unto me!

In this writer's opinion, the American people have lost their collective minds. It would appear that the more that God blessed Americans, that many of the American people have become less responsive to the needs of their fellow human beings.

In conclusion, to those of you who have houses with garages (attached or unattached), how about placing the vehicles, jet skis, campers and even the family pet outside, and find a way to bring some homeless person inside. A homeless person would at least appreciate sleeping on a simple cot on the floor of your pristine garage (the manger) from 9:00pm to 7:00am the next day. And by the way, most homeless people are not dangerous - many of them are people just like you!

Rev. C. Solomon
Peace & Grace

To be continued…

Addenda: I have discovered that homelessness, when permitted to fester is symptomatic of a much deeper societal problem!

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