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When The Streets Are Your Home, You Are Never Alone.

Image by Chris Hensley

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything"                                   - Chuck Palahniuk

            Sometimes when I am driving in my truck, walking on the street, chatting with friends, I speculate on what I would do if I was a "less fortunate person." This term is one that we have adopted to politely mean "homeless." I wonder if this has provided me with the drive to ensure that I do not end up on the streets. Perhaps my fascination with this subject might lead me to actually living on the streets. This is typically when I stop imagining myself living outdoors.

For the sake of simplicity I will refer to a less fortunate person as "LFP" throughout this work.

             If it weren't for my family and friends, I'm sure I would have already experienced this at least once. I have been humbled on too many occasions to count in this life, but was short of being labeled as an outcast to society. This label is sometimes warranted, and sometimes it is not. As humans we must protect ourselves and our loved ones from outside forces. Our caves have gotten bigger, but we need this cave to protect us from the weather, and animals that would otherwise hurt or kill us.

             One of the ideas that I bounce around is that if I were to become an LFP, why would I stay in the city and be viewed as an outcast to society? Why not travel to the amazon and become my own person, fending off of the land, eating fish and hunting. It sure seems more honorable. I really enjoyed BBC's Documentary, Human Planet. One of the episodes covers a man that has to walk a tight rope over the the Mekong River, every day, to get to his favorite fishing spot. Once he has succesfully caught enough fish he returns to his home to feed his family, and his work is done for the day. Sounds a lot more desirable than having to walk up to a stranger and ask for money when everyone already knows the reason why you are attempting to engage in a conversation with them.

              I have been down on my luck, too. Whenever I first got out of the Navy, I worked forty hours per week, but at a rate below the poverty line. Switching from military to civilian life, was initially a lot more difficult than I originally imagined. I qualified for the EBT Program, which I took advantage of. To qualify for EBT, you need to earn less than a certain amount of money per year, need an ID, and an address. There are programs in place for people to volunteer the use of their mailing address for an LFP to have their mail sent. Of course, a big problem amongst the LFP is mental health. We can only hope that the outreach programs are extending far enough.

I consider my back-up plan if life doesn't work out for me, is to surf all day and eat lobster. With EBT, beautiful weather in San Diego, an LFP is living better than a first class citizen in some regions. Would you rather be without a house in San Diego or upper class in North Korea? I know this isn't a standard we should really be comparing humane life too.

It may sound like I am making light of the unfortunate situation that our cities inhabitants are in. This couldn't be further from the truth. I hate the fact that during the holidays they might possibly be watching a family drive by and are reminded that they do not have that luxury. Knowing that a shower and a shave aren't always easy to come by. Not knowing if you will be woken up in the night by a thief, a drunk college kid or even the police. This has to be degrading, Which adds to my case for moving to the amazon.
Image by Chris Hensley

I am very passionate about helping my fellow man/woman. I am, however, faced with a dilemma. There are many social and religious programs for the homeless in San Diego. There could always be more. Anyone who pays taxes in San Diego is effectively paying to support the less fortunate. This is a hard city to live in. Most of us don't make enough in comparison to our housing and living expenses. It seems as though we cannot walk out of a store, or sit at a stop light without being asked for spare money. We don't even have to really get into the people abusing the system, or the ones who have been showing up to the same intersection for years. There are always people abusing every system.

As someone who cares about their community, but also knows that they need to save money or they too will be left behind at the changing of the tides, how are we supposed to say "no" all day? I know my life could be a lot better, but my life is a lot better than theirs. I can not afford to give the 10,000+ LFP in San Diego 5$ each.

  Are we forced to feel guilty for taking advantage of the opportunities that have come our way?
                                                      (Please comment below)

I say we volunteer. We donate after researching the structure of the organizations we are donating too. 

San Diego Rescue - Donate Your Time

-submitted by Chris Hensley

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