Today on my way into work I saw a dead person. It was jarring. We never really talk about death and dying in our culture. The people who die in the wars we send them to, we call heroes. This man died in the bushes, right near where I park my car sometimes. We call his kind homeless, and we don’t talk about them much either. Out of sight, out of mind.
I saw half his body sticking out, with police taking notes about him, setting up a crime scene, but he appeared to have died of exposure from sleeping outside.
There will probably never be a story about him in the paper, about his life, except as a statistic. He died on the edge of one of the great universities in our nation, on the very border of so much privilege and wealth and opportunity. But all that comes at a price a lot of people can’t pay. Opportunity costs money. That’s America.
I donated to The Simpson House today, a Twin Cities organization that helps those in a housing crisis find the stability they need to get back on track. Their programs include emergency shelter, single adult supportive housing, and family housing. In 2015 they provided support to 3,766 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness—just in my little city, in a nation with more millionaires than anywhere in the world, at any time in the whole of our human history.
There are hundreds of these organizations you can donate to, in your town, in my town, in every town of any size. You should do that, but we should also aspire to have a government that doesn't allow homelessness. Everyone deserves shelter.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If only our founders had been more specific. They should have said, "food, shelter, healthcare."