As of late, I have noticed the increasing number of homeless standing in the shadow of recently constructed million dollar condominiums in the downtown riverfront area of my city. It is a cruel juxtaposition of wealth and poverty in this land of alleged riches and opportunity; a land where people from other lands are risking life and limb to set foot into this mirage, this smoke and mirrors, this illusion, this sleight of hand. Poverty is real and it is increasing by leaps and bounds in this land. It is ironic that the land known for its wealth and opportunity is fraught with poverty and lack of opportunity. There is a face, an American face, that the world would never recognize if all it depends on are the images of the wealth of Hollywood stars and movies, the Big Tech executives with their massive wealth, and the nearly complete lack of coverage of the American homeless crisis.
Why am I writing about this?
Well, for the last few months, I have driven past several homeless men and women who have increasingly began to gather at the intersections that I travel to get to work. I have noticed that the county’s downtown library parking garage is now becoming a homeless encampment with tents, blankets, boxes, shopping carts, and a growing group of homeless. I have witnessed homeless sprawled out on park benches along the sidewalks. With them, they hold duffle bags and other bags that indicate that they are carrying all their worldly possessions with them.
Why is this happening?
How could this happen when billions of dollars are being wasted on other nations when Americans need the help here in this very city that I live in?
This is a crisis of epic proportions. It is growing and I am witnessing it first hand. I have seen women with small children, and on several occasions I have seen men with signs indicating that they are veterans and will work for food.
On a personal note, a dear friend recently informed me that they are potentially facing homelessness in the northern city they had moved to for work. Life has a way of falling apart in mid-step; oftentimes, homelessness occurs through a series of events that just go terribly wrong, so never think it cannot happen to you.
It most certainly can, and especially in this land of smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, financial waste, and lack of compassion and care for its own citizens, and apathy from the rest of the world. The world sees the United States through a distorted rose colored lens much like a toy kaleidoscope with all the pretty, pretty colors swirling inside it.
Maybe it wasn’t always like this.
But, in 2021, it is painful to watch this decline. Truth is housing is way too expensive, wages way too low, and health care costs criminally excessive.
The real United States should be shown to the world. The homeless camps, the grinding poverty, the abandoned storefronts, et cetera, et cetera.
The American dream has devolved into the American nightmare; it is painful for me to witness it. In the past 40 years since I was a college student, I can truthfully say that I have never seen such decline.
Just a few days from Thanksgiving Day, I ask that you join me in praying for the homeless Americans who at this moment are sleeping in tents beneath overpasses, huddled in doorways in sleeping bags, digging in garbage bins behind restaurants in search for food, and living in tents in wooded areas on the outskirts of any number of American cities.
The stark reality is that there is no “American dream.” That is an illusion.
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, please be thankful if you have a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator.
Not everyone has food and shelter, including in the United States of America.
Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021