The Fear of Becoming

Just had an excellent confab with cara michele, where we held forth on a variety of topics. She's one of the most compassionate people I've ever met, and has got to be one of the smartest people in the Triad. Why we don't have her and others like her in public office, I don't know; seems we'd be all the better for it.

She also gave me quite a bit of food for thought. We discussed how homeless people (and to a slightly lesser extent, poor people) are perceived, usually with some degree of revulsion. Such perceptions seem to come from a sense that the homeless' lowly state has somehow knocked them right off the scale of humanity; as a result, they are often shunned, ignored, sneered at, snarled at, and otherwise treated (dare I say it) as something subhuman.

And I'm no angel in that regard. Remember, before becoming homeless myself earlier this year, I avoided obviously-homeless people, too. I refused to give change to panhandlers, and shook my head at the sign-carriers on the curb. Yes, I had a hard lesson to learn, too. And despite the harshness of the lesson, it needed to be learned.

But wherefore the basic perception of subhumanity? Why do so many of us shudder when we see someone who is obviously bereft of home?

Perhaps it's not a perception born of hatred or loathing. Maybe it's from a limbic sense that if we become involved in the problem, we too will suffer from the problem. Just like some people will refuse to visit a hospital for fear of becoming sick, or not going near a cemetery or funeral parlor so as not to think about our own mortality. Or befriending/helping the homeless lest we also become homeless. We don't want to face what could happen to us.

We have a fear of becoming.

Sounds superstitious. Maybe on some level it is, but if like me you believe in "what goes around, comes around," and "if you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you," you can wrap your brain around this concept, too.

However, the fear of becoming need not hold terror for us. After all, how do you fix the problem if you don't face it? At some point, you've got to stand at the boss's desk and tell her that important report got deleted from the drive. You've got to tell the teacher the dog ate your homework. You've got to face the fact that there are poor and homeless in town that could use the help.

At some point, you've got to face the problem, without worrying about becoming. Who knows, maybe it some cases becoming isn't such a bad thing.


I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation today. It's great to learn from each other. :)

It's so exciting to see how God takes the negative things in our lives and turns them to good! Your blog continues to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness and to help break down stereotypes about the people who experience it.

This is a verse I thought of for you today:

"You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing." Genesis 50:20

Peace, Cara Michele
Mike, you should go to the library next time and borrow the Grapes of Wrath from the juvenile/young adult section. I think you d be suprised at how many parallels you could draw to your life in the novel.
Avolokitisvara, I'm pretty sure Mike has read Grapes of Wrath. :) He's rather well read.

As to answer Mike's post. The reason I will not give to a panhandler is I do not want to enable that activity. I support causes directly that will provide clothes and housing to the homeless. And I will support specific individuals that I know are not trying to just be a slacker but instead are in the middle of a bad situation that they are trying to improve.
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