The Humiliation of Homelessness and Poverty

I shared this video last week on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t think enough people have seen it. I hope it makes you think, because it definitely challenged me. This is the story of Ronald Davis:

Did you notice what gets him choked up more than anything? It’s not the struggles of finding food and shelter. What tears him down is how people treat him.

Hear his words:

“It’s really humiliating to be shaking a cup 24 hours a day, and people just look at you like you’re some kind of little bum.”

“I’m not a bum. I’m a human being.”

“I feel so bad that I can’t be going home. . . . I’m really trying to get myself together and get off the street.”

“You really lose all your humility when you’re shaking a cup, begging.”

“A lot of people look at you like you’re just a piece of crumb.”

“No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human person.”

That’s what poverty is about. It classifies and separates. It elevates one group of people over others — elevating only some people’s physical, emotional, and social resources.

How many times have I looked at a homeless person, a beggar, a (gulp) bum — and thought, spoke, or acted in a condescending manner? Too many.

This video reminded me that when I look at those “less fortunate,” I must above all else see them as a human being, created in the image of God.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”     (Genesis 1:27)

“And from one blood he made the whole world of humanity.”        (Acts 17:26)

I’d love to hear from you in the comments: What did you think of this video?

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4 responses to “The Humiliation of Homelessness and Poverty”

  1. Valerie Campbell says :

    In the past, I have taken the ” don’t make eye contact approach” but as my husband and I took in foster kids, I wanted them to learn to show respect to these people. I started making care packages to keep handy in the car. They have snacks, water, tissues, wipes, travel toothbrush, toothpaste, etc… Useful stuff because I can’t bring myself to just give them cash. I have no idea what they actually do with that stuff- if they throw it all out because it isn’t money or if they are grateful, but it’s not my assumption to make. Even if it helps 1 out of every 5 or 10 of them to feel human again, then it was worth all the attemps. Last time I surprised myself when I opened the window again to warn him of the snack bar’s peanut content in case he had allergies. It is amazing the kind of thoughtfulness you can learn while teaching it to your kids.

    My other holdback has been because I am a woman and concerned for my safety and my children’s, so I will admit even now that I only do this at busy intersections.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Valerie, I think that’s a great idea. Again, the key thing is about respect, as you say. The actions must flow out of that. I like what you do (and I don’t blame you for being wise in your selection of when you give).

  2. Krista says :

    I’m behind in my emails from Joey right now…but I LOVE Valerie’s idea. I with her on being hesitant to give cash, but I love the idea have having packages ready to go that I can carry in my truck and that my husband could carry as well. On my list now for this week during my Walmart trip. Thanks so much for sharing what you do!

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