Whoever we might be, we all desire respect & dignity. Here is a street dweller’s self appraisal that is food for thought:
They call me “Homeless”
but don’t care to ask my name.
I prefer “Street Dweller”
’cause the streets are my home.
They call me purposeless
but life on the streets spell
“Survival of the fittest” that
makes me far from useless.
They call me hopeless
but I have hope as I am
From place to place I trek,
I know bins full of food,
and outside which shop to beg.
Bus drivers know me,
turn a blind eye when I hop
on for free rides with my dog Fred.
They call me senseless
but I put to use the common
sense given by the Most High
when I look to the sky and
can tell if it shall rain or shine.
Then I know where to lay
my head; in someone’s shed, a
fold up box, open air?
anywhere as long as it
is miles away from a fox!
I am a street dweller.
Yes, among life’s fittest.
A survivor, that’s who I am.
©DEN-The Witness – 24/09/2016
Note: Upon request, I have given permission for this poem to be incorporated in a play with other poems at a College in Lansing, Michigan USA in November 2019 to coincide with Thanksgiving. The play is about the life of a group of homeless people and entitled “I have a name”.
Reflection & Encouragement:
One who lives in a home, has an address to go to can easily think “why would one want to live on the streets! Whatever name one chooses to be called “Homeless” or “Street Dweller” does not change the fact that they are in an undesirable status in life!”
Such a thought is not necessarily malicious, most people prefer a roof over their heads, a place to call home. However as we can see from this poem, the street dweller is expressing how they perceive their situation or circumstance which is contrary to how people, to his or her knowledge perceive it.
The street dweller has accepted their status as their reality. The circumstance or situation which resulted in them being as such is neither here nor there, they are proud to be living on the streets and making good of their life on the streets. They have learnt to survive and have dignity and self respect. Their descriptive prose is also saying loud and clear: this is who I am, take it or leave it! They actually compel one to respect them.
A number of reflections and lessons can be derived from this poem as well as words of counsel and encouragement or exhortation, here are some:
If people superficially put you in a box, assume things about you or stereotype you because of how society and others perceive or treat “people like you” i.e your economic, social status and race or cultural background, it is actually only you and you alone who can dismantle those superficial or stereotypical assumptions about who they think you are or how they expect you to behave.
Not that you have to make a conscious effort to change their minds or attitudes about you; Your manner of self-perception, self-relation, self-definition and self-respect in relation to who you are and your circumstance will greatly influence how people treat and perceive you.
Despite being born as a member of a family you are a unique being.Unique also within one human race and within diverse racial or ethnic groups, social and economic group of the human race. There is only one you!
However if you find that despite being unique and basically your true self within and still feel unaccepted by some because of your social and economic status, nationality, race or cultural background there is nothing you can do about it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. However you have to make sure that you stay true to who you are as a person and not be driven to say things or act in ways that agree with any false labels about who you are or what people think you are supposed to be.
People may not understand your circumstances or even know all the background experiences and elements which have made you who you currently are, but learning to connect with your true self within, loving and respecting who you are without comparison to anyone else will constantly shatter any adverse effects that negative words and actions may otherwise have on you.
There is a scripture in the bible “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
Self love and respect results in expressions of love and respect towards others also because you inevitably empathise, have compassion for or appreciate other human beings more. As much as you cultivate positive self worth so too you see the bigger picture; the world is full of people who are worthy to be loved and respected as you are. It is therefore impossible for people who have a habit of putting people down or taunting and backbiting to befriend you or be among your close circle of friends.
In the context of the Street Dweller’s message, being a survivor is being an overcomer from having your worth defined by how others perceive you. Whatever your status or circumstance in life, ensure that you can say like the Street Dweller:
“Yes, among life’s fittest.
A survivor, that’s who I am.”
Note: This poem & discourse “Who I’m I? It’s a matter of Perception!
is in my book “Wielding the Sword of the Spirit” a book of interrelating inspirational teachings/devotions & poems chapter by chapter.