Commentary by William Gilmore
On December 21, 2011, the 25th Candlelight Vigil Memorial Service was held at St. Patrick’s Hunger Center paying honor and tribute to those persons who died homeless or having experienced homelessness in 2011. This year’s services took place with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sadness because of the perception that persons living in the state of homelessness and poverty do not matter. I heard that their lives did not matter and no one cares. It is these perceptions that destroy the human spirit. It’s also a poor state of affairs when those persons who have expressed being committed to providing services and help to those in need choose to make known publicly their true intent, or when they deny the less fortunate the human dignity which God has given.
To quote the author Ralph Ellison from The Invisible Man, ‘No, I’m not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe nor am I one of your Hollywood Movie Ectoplasm. I am a man of substance and might be even said to process a mind.” These words were written decades ago but capture the dreams and hopes of the less fortunate in society.
The circumstances that create the condition of homelessness and poverty are man made. Those conditions will change only when those with the best hearts and the brightest minds lead us. The causalities of these misperceptions can and will play a major role in the outcome of these issues which plague our society. This reality exists because every person matters to someone and those experiencing homelessness do have a voice. We must hear all people if we are to achieve a more perfect union, as described in our nation’s Constitution. May God and heaven help us all do what is right.
Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012