OK, before I get started you should know that not every facet of my life has become ethically “better” since I got into the news business.
I am still dumping my trash in Dumpsters that are not mine. I look at names on arrest reports from my hometown to see if I know anyone. And, I will admit, I vainly recommend my own stories.
I have, however, gotten a little more heart.
“They are lazy alcoholics,” I would say. “I’m not giving them money because they will only buy booze. They have shelters that provide money and they are only wanting help from others.”
This is probably still true of some of the homeless seen holding signs around town, but not all of them.
Call me the Tin Man, because I finally have a heart. After countless stories on homelessness, which is a big issue in the town I report on, I see that they were once just like me but things happen. Life happens.
I met Richard today. He served in the Air Force just like his father and his father before him. He was once a proud man, but one bankrupt business, diagnosis of cancer and stolen car later and he is living in the woods.
He has faith in the Lord. While interviewing him, I was invited numerous times to an outdoor church service he called “beautiful.” He said one day the Lord will bless him with a way out of his current situation.
I believe him.
I met another man a while back who, before I walked up to him, I was sure would yell, curse and run me off when I approached him. John didn’t do any of that.
He did excuse his smell.
He told me all about the business he used to work for. How he once made a six-figure salary. But with economic times like they are he was laid off. Years of looking for a job without any luck landed him on the street holding a “God Bless You” sign.
He said he appreciates the food he is given, but what he really wanted was a job. He wanted to not have to depend on other people.
I now realize that not every homeless person chose to be there. Not every homeless person is looking to score a quick fix. I learned that they are people too.