What a simple, smart way to make a statement. Activism assumes many methods. And this handicapped SoCalian decided to post signage on his/her own home (presumption). I studied the handmade sign and the belongings tied to the bumper. A ladder, a folding chair, a blue box and other random items were fastened to "Lindy." Every single tangible piece of this person's life exists in this cramped space. Several rooms in which to pile useless things and meaningless stuff are not available to this person. He has his home on wheels, and that is probably all. Of course, I'm making assumptions, but judging from the countless mobile homes parked along the streets of Venice, or as some say, wrecking the streets of Venice, I think I'm fairly spot-on.
I wondered who lived inside. A man? A woman? Multiple humans? A family? Did they own pets? Did the inside smell? How long had they lived in Lindy? And are they staring back at me through the small back window? I then recognized my blatant disrespect, my cheeks warming slightly. But honestly, I had so many questions. I speculated the proceeding events should I knock on the door. I just had a few questions. This would make such a compelling, unique story that I could post on LAist the following morning. Thousands of readers would absorb my words, inciting a revolution for homeless people everywhere. Thoughts of Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill homeless man who was beaten to death by the Fullerton police in July, flipped my stomach. I sat back down on my padded, worn bicycle seat. I shouldn't impose.
I remained impressed by their activism, no matter how small the signage, the message was bold. Stop. Violence. Against. The. Homeless. Remember now, humans, homeless humans are humans, too. But I think that fact is one that we often neglect to retain. We're all the same race. We're brothers. We're sisters. It doesn't matter if we live in a camper with dirt staining our skin. It doesn't matter if we can count our possessions. In my opinion, life's better that way - simple. Yet we commonly treat homeless people like dirt. Not all of us and not all the time, but we do. I've done it. I still scowl when I see "bums" littering my front steps. I admit, I see them that way. At first. Thankfully compassion quickly awakens and floods my temporarily brainless mind, pumping blood back into my skull, reviving the knowledge that those are people. Those are people who live rough lives. They know what it's like to be starving. Don't ever say you're "starving" when you're hungry. Most times you are not. And you never will be. And you waste food and take life for granted. Life is hard. We know this. But there are ways to lessen the strain, the stress, the long faces.
As sappy as it may sound, start with a smile - it has a lasting, powerful impression that can lighten even the darkest of souls. I'm not saying smiles will end homelessness. I'm saying it's a start to elevate not just yourself but everyone around you. Then educate yourself. Research the homeless population in your neighborhood. How many shelters are available? Is there anything you can do to help? Surely there's an upcoming volunteer event that would love to have your helping hands. Share your mind muscles and experiences with others. Dig and uncover the violence that taints your neighborhood. What can be done? My hope is that once people can wrap their heads around what it's like to be without, well, anything, that they'll own a warmer heart, grow a bigger brain, wear a wider smile and widen their embraces.