I am completely befuddled at the reactions of some Americans to the current Syrian refugee crisis. Many utterances of humanity and freedom have emerged.over the past several weeks. We are encouraged not to blame the victims, not to stereotype and to most of all, remember the children. One does not have to look far to see the parallels to those in America who are currently without homes, lack adequate food, and live in the cold. The unmistakable absence of the Pope’s visit to the homeless in D.C. is obvious. Although his mention of the refugee crisis is spoken of often in the media, I personally have not found even one network that has mentioned his visit to the homeless shelter in D.C.
Could it be possible that one of the most significant parts of his visit is lacking attention while at the same time the refugee crisis is spoken of with urgency. The homeless crisis in America is also urgent, especially to those who are experiencing it. The authenticity of those wanting to help the refugees comes into question when these same people fighting for a solution for refugees take part in the daily ignoring and suffering of our own citizens who live in deplorable circumstances.
Even our President in addressing the press while visiting Turkey this week reminisced about Pope Francis’ response to the refugee crisis, without seeming to understand the role that the government plays in bringing urgent attention to those within our own borders who lack safe haven. The homeless problem is one that is visible, yet few politicians have taken steps to remedy our plight. Throughout Obama’s entire administration, little was done to ensure that the homeless crisis was resolved. The homeless crisis is in great need of repair, with agencies and the media perpetuating a narrative of stereotypical images and failing to communicate the real crisis which homeless Americans endure.
I applaud Pope Francis for bringing a sense of urgency to the refugee situation, but I also applaud him for visiting with the American people who are experiencing homelessness. He did not spend time with the board members or directors of homeless agencies, but with the people who are in the midst of it. Unlike mayors and other politicians who continually meet with agencies on our behalf, he visited the people whose lives are being affected by it.
He saw and recognized a part of the population to which some of our most noteworthy leaders have become blinded to. He encouraged American governmental leaders to put people first and to practice empathy. Despite the lack of hope that seems to pervade our county on the homeless issue, Pope Francis’ message to Congress offered hope in helping us to emerge from the mire of our circumstances. Without once mentioning the word "homelessness", his speech undergirds the basic principles necessary to overcome homelessness and his message should remain a constant reminder of the role we all of society plays in ending it. He didn't need to say the word because his actions spoke volumes. He reminded us of the biblical principal of treating others as we do ourselves. Although the Pope offered a blueprint to disintegrate homelessness, little heed taken to his powerful advice.
While Pope Francis spoke about the clerics of his own Church, it also sheds light on churches of every religion that spend resources on helping various victims in third world communities or other foreign countries with issues of food supplies while blatantly ignoring the hunger on our own streets. As Americans, we seem adept at offering help to those of whom we cannot see or interact. Perhaps it may be easier to practice empathy when it is abroad or foreign, but few have the ability to see those around the corner who are suffering as victims. We the homeless, after all, are seeking asylum in our own country.