OK guys, serious hat today.
Yes, Ash the crazy, nugget-and-cheeseburger- loving “adult” is being serious today.
There is something we need to talk about.
Have a read, yeah?
Have you ever been ignored? I definitely have.
Happens all the time.
By my parents, if I am whinging about the internet stream lagging. By my friends, if I am complaining about not getting my hair done before a big night out, or about a lack of nugs at the fast food outlet just up the road.
But have I ever truly been ignored? Like I wasn’t worth the effort of looking at or talking to?
No. I haven’t.
Every morning, I wake up and mumble to my fam. I go online and engage with people with likes and comments and tags and tweets. When I walk into work, people will wave or nod as I lope to my desk.
I am visible. I’m not ignored. I get to go home to a warm, safe house where I have ready access to a meal, a bed and Netflix.
I don’t have to worry if I am hungry, because I know I have money to buy lunch.
The people around me are pretty much all the same. We are happy (relatively), we have family and we have each other.
We are pieces from the same puzzle.
That isn’t the case for a lot of people in Australia, including those in little ol’ Albany.
Homelessness is a serious issue and we can’t continue to sweep it under the rug.
I visited a working port city a few months ago and was shocked by the number of people taking refuge in café corners and alleyways.
I saw grown men covered in old newspapers, dirtied by the dust and muck of the street.
One came up to me and asked for the scraps on my breakfast plate.
I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. I mean, what is the right thing to say?
Having homelessness look you straight in the eye is confronting.
We hear all the time from charities with age-old phrases like ‘how would you feel if…?’.
Can we comprehend what it means to be homeless?
What does it actually feel like to crawl through the day, knowing you don’t have a warm place to sleep on those disgusting wintry nights?
Living with the pang of hunger as a numb and constant reminder?
What happens when you’ve worn out your welcome couch-surfing?
The harsh reality is no – we as part of society generally struggle to comprehend the challenges of homelessness for those on the fringes.
We live in a consumerist world where having the best for ourselves has become a priority.
Granted, I am simplifying here, and I do not mean to imply all people are selfish in nature.
But it seems to be the general gist of humans.
Our default setting is to survive, and in doing so, we tend to focus on ourselves.
We may try to help others by dropping an extra coin in the charity box or donating a couple of tins of soup, but how far are we really reaching out to those in need?
The thing is, a lot of people can’t break the cycle of homelessness and they are crying out.
So, for Homelessness Awareness Week and any week in the year, don’t just donate and walk away.
Realise how lucky you are to be in a position where you can apply for and hold a job, have access to clean water and hot food, and be a visible part of society.
Don’t let homelessness become another issue placed in the ‘too hard’ basket. Start with a simple smile.
Face it. Don’t fear it. Let’s fix it.