The wrong side of recovery

  • Article by: Steven M. Lukas
  • Updated: December 3, 2013 - 6:25 PM

I’m comfortable in the presence of the homeless. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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donethatDec. 3, 13 6:57 PM

I suppose I'm weird, but sometimes I try to remind myself that every encounter with someone in need is an opportunity to get out of my me, me, me, rush, rush, rush existence. And even though I'm prone to be judgmental, I don't get to know if the person I'm helping has honest motives or not or what they will use it for, nor should I know. For me, I am told only to give and the rest is God's business and none of mine.

shushyn78Dec. 3, 13 8:34 PM

A while back, I was approached by an individual at the Quarry in NE Mpls who said he had a flat tire and needed cash to fix it. I listened as his words came machine gun style,...quick and many. He said if I didn't believe him, I could give him a ride to his car. Of course, if I gave him my address, he'd be happy to pay me back too. I told him that wouldn't be necessary as he climbed into my truck. I didn't get any danger vibes from him and I was in an especially generous state of being that day as he told me to head downtown. We headed over the I-94 bridge and into the Phillips neighborhood. Then he said we had went far enough and he could get out and walk the rest of the way. He was meeting his "pastor" at his car. He had asked for $26. I reached into my pocket and couldn't find anything other than two $20 bills. I looked at him and said, "buddy, it's your lucky day" as I handed him $40. He thanked me profusely and probably couldn't believe his good luck. I never saw him again. When I retold this story to my retired Lt. Colonel U.S. Air Force uncle, he scolded me for enabling this man's drug habit. So did I help him or hurt him? You need to let your conscience be informed by the wisdom of Solomon. But most of us should not do what I did. Could be dangerous. But some of us have entertained angels too.

zmcutiex3Dec. 4, 1312:05 AM

This article proves a point for people here in America. Us people do not know how to react when we see someone homeless asking for help. Do we give them money? Offer them shelter or food? Many people will continue on with their day as they pass by the homeless. I honestly think it is great to help people in need. I also think those people on the streets could try to get a job instead of sitting on the corner asking for money. They could even apply at a fast food restaurant. In any case, they could be trying much harder then sitting on the corner. I believe in helping those in need, but sitting there doing nothing isn't helping them either. You choose the life you live. So make it worth it.

odinmanDec. 4, 13 6:00 AM

@shushyn78 - You were had. The flat tire story is as old as the hills. Oh well, I hope the guy used the money for food and not booze/drugs.

parn0015Dec. 4, 13 7:49 AM

Look, I'm a social worker, and I can tell you 99% of those people are homeless because they are alcoholics or drug addicts (usually both). Being homeless isn't something that just randomly "happens" to a normal person.

Izzy96Dec. 4, 13 8:14 AM

But homelessness can happen to almost everyone. And even if it does go to booze or drugs, who are you to judge the use? Maybe the drug or booze ease the pain of living in homelessness? To the cold social worker: your answer in helping the homeless is what? Too bad, you mad this bed? Or so you want to believe because it aids your feeling that you have no responsibility to help? Where are the families of these people? Out of sight, out of mind? Is there an "acceptable percentage" of homelessness the way we believe their is an "acceptable percentage" of unemployment? You too, may be one job loss away from homelessness.

kinnickDec. 4, 13 8:59 AM

Yes,but we have a spineless governor that put the homeless and roads on the back burner for a billionaire! What has been done for the disadvantaged in North Minneapolis by him.......nothing. But yet like union workers they will flock to the poles to vote for promises that never happen!

kusstDec. 4, 13 9:07 AM

No one likes the fact of many thousands of homeless in Minnesota and across the land. so tell me, the expansion of the welfard state and the contraction of the private sector has helped or hurt this situation. then tell me who are the truly compasionate?? gonna get worse before its gets better.

gemie1Dec. 4, 13 9:12 AM

I will never judge a homeless person, but I will also not help enable him or her to continue this lifestyle. There is help for people to get off the street and job training. For those with mental illness, there are programs that can help. There are resources to help these individuals. There is a spot on the exit ramp of 35N and Grand Avenue exit and there is always someone standing there with a sign? I wonder if I am an enabling or helping them and I always feel conflicted when I give money or I do not give money and ignore the person. What is helping another person in this situation?

bythebeachDec. 4, 13 9:15 AM

"Look, I'm a social worker, and I can tell you 99% of those people are homeless because they are alcoholics or drug addicts (usually both). Being homeless isn't something that just randomly "happens" to a normal person." Wow - not sure who you actually work with in social services because you're misinformed on homelessness. I worked in the field of homelessness for several years. Yes, many are addicts - but not nearly 99%. At least a third are mentally ill. Unfortunately, single parenting of multiple children and not finishing high school (which leads to working part-time in low wage jobs because that's all they're qualified for) are also huge factors in ending up homeless. Many have significant/trauma in their background which leads to mental health issues. You don't see most of the homeless because they're living in shelters or couch surfing. The people on the street are probably addicts or mentally ill, or both. They either don't have the coping skills to stay in shelters (yes, they sometimes make the choice to live on the street) or they don't qualify for shelters because they're "using." Please remember the people you see on the street aren't necessarily the average "face" of homelessness.


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