No more time for denial

The time for warm weather has apparently passed in Pickens County, which means it’s time to break out the scarves, mittens, warm coats — and big hearts.

While big hearts won’t keep you warm, they are needed to keep others warm as the temperatures begin to drop below the freezing point nightly. Pets and plants need to be taken care of but so do the less fortunate in Pickens County.

Homelessness is not always a sign of alcohol or drug addiction, or even mental illness. Sometimes homelessness is the result of one or two choices that did not pan out or the loss of a job that has not been easy to replace.

Not everyone who needs a hand up is in the position they are in because they are lazy or waiting for the government or someone else to solve their problems. Homelessness is not always the result of a lack of effort or ambition.

Judging without knowing the facts behind someone’s situation is an easy way to pass the buck when it comes to foregoing any social responsibility, and sadly, that is exactly what happens in many cases.

How many times have you heard someone say “I work for everything I have, they ought to do the same” or something similar? It seems this attitude is permeating society at an alarming rate.

Here are some numbers from the National Alliance to End Homelessness for your consideration:

• 578,424 people are without a home this moment

• Of those, 401,501 live extremely short term in a shelter

• 177,373 have nowhere to get out of the elements

• 362,263 are individuals

• 216,261 are in families, equating to 67,513 families with no home

• 84,291 are chronically homeless

• 49,933 are homeless veterans

• 45,205 are unaccompanied children

Do any of these numbers shock you? Perhaps more importantly, if they don’t, why?

They should be shocking to you, especially in a presidential election cycle, a time when candidates are filling heads with dreams of sugar plums dancing over what some have touted as one of the biggest economic recoveries in the nation’s history.

The United States is supposed to be the biggest and most successful free economy but also a leader in humanitarian efforts. Yet, while the present administration is about to deliver a $150 billion check to Iran, there will be American citizens hungry and cold.

Their children will have to huddle in handout blankets, waiting for school to open so they might have a hot meal, with no home and even less hope for a future any brighter than the prospect the temperatures might not be so cold tomorrow.

Somewhere along the way the obvious has to be pointed out: The homeless do not matter to most people in this country. It is a harsh statement, but true.

It’s easier to convince yourself the homeless are there because they deserve it, even if children are involved, rather than give of your time, resources and talents to help affect change, even if the portion you change is just your own backyard.

The truth is each and every individual can make a difference, but you must leave the judgment at home and realize the effort you make today will grow as others see the selfless impact upon the world. It is inspiring to give of yourself, to help your fellow man.

V. I. Lenin, one of the prime forces behind the Russian Revolution, once said “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

That may have been true in early 20th century Russia, but today, in this time and in this place, it might more appropriately read: Denial is the opiate of the masses. That and reality TV.