Note: These letters have been published in various newspapers as indicated on the individual letters; therefore, they cannot be reproduced without permission.
Ltr #1(Wash Post 1/15/89)
Why We Help the Homeless
Helping the homeless is one of life's thorny issues that sears the souls and challenges the minds of all who come near it. There's not a single day that we "do-gooders"--while making bag lunches, driving down to D.C. with meals to deliver or buying needed food or supplies--don't hear, ringing in our ears, the admonitions of spouses, friends, or social philosophers: "You're making sure these people do nothing. They'll never help themselves if you won't let them be responsible for their own food and drink." And we know from life's experiences that people must accept responsibility before they can change. We see the logic of those who reason that with food and a place to sleep--some would add a bottle of wine--the homeless may never change. And, yes, we can see, and are fearful, that the Mitch Snyders of the world could be arrogant, self-serving political exploiters who will bring the good intentions of us all into disrepute.
But we do not have the time, the resources or the wisdom to decide the intentions of the homeless or their advocates or to prove who will be better or worse because of our "help."
So we are driven by our own belief that among the homeless there are those who have never had and will never have the psychological resilience and toughness to bring order and discipline into their lives, and that they will not change regardless of what food, drink or bed we may give them.
We further believe and fervently hope that with a little help, a little caring, may sustain some few during periods of hopelessness in their lives or may catalyze in some few a desire to get control of their destiny.
So we continue on with our own particular brand of compassion for the whole of unfortunate homeless population--believing in the ultimate triumph of the decency one human being to another, humble in our expectations, but firm in our belief that more good than bad will come of what we do.
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