A hard heart is a progressive disease that I nearly died from.  This condition is becoming endemic in our western affluent societies. It is now beginning to express itself in our laws.  Sadly it has become a crime to sleep in a public space if you are homeless.  Jino Distasio writing for the Huffington Post reports:

 As humans, we need to sleep. It is a biologically unavoidable act. Yet, on both sides of the border, “sleeping” can be considered a criminal act, especially if you are homeless and have no place to rest your head other than in public spaces such as parks.  (Arrested for Sleeping? We Shouldn’t Criminalize Homelessness, HuffPost, Posted: 09/02/2015)

Nobody seems to care enough about the homeless; we just criminalize their condition.  How did people become homeless? Who are they and what did the do before becoming homeless and what is their value?  These are all questions that are not even considered in the face of their ‘crime’ – homelessness!

Wikipedia reports that the causes of homelessness in Canada are complex:

Why people become homeless is a complex question and the answers are as unique as each individual’s history. People become homeless by many different paths; however, the most common reasons are “inability to pay rent (63%), conflict or abuse (36%), alcohol or drug use problems(10%)”.   Other factors can include mental disorders, foster care exits, exiting from jail or hospitalization, immigration, rising housing costs and decreased rent controls, federal and provincial downloading of housing programs, and low social assistance rates.

Right now thousands upon thousands of people are trekking across Europe because they are homeless.  They would all be criminals in North America! Joanna Slater of the Globe and Mail writes:

It’s a warm summer night in Budapest as hundreds of people turn the concrete plaza around the main railway station into a refugee camp. The luckier ones have tents. Others stretch out on the steps leading to the subway, using water bottles as pillows. Others sleep on flattened boxes, so exhausted they are oblivious to the noise around them. One family perches on a ledge, their young daughter resting in her mother’s lap as her parents sway with fatigue. (Europe’s greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, BUDAPEST — The Globe and Mail ,Tuesday, Sep. 01, 2015)

The cure for my hard heart is also the  cure for society’s hard heart and for homelessness.  Ironically, the cure was also ‘homeless’ when He walked among us.  His name is Jesus; “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)   Homelessness does cost and so does the cure.  We have to give up our hypersensitive concern for our own welfare and think of others.  Selfishness never solves any social or individual problems.  Jesus taught us a simple rule for living; “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

If you were homeless – How would you like to be treated?

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