Florida has much bigger problems
than George Zimmerman
Contrary to the way in which the media is portraying it, Central Florida actually has problems much larger than the recent “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman case. And one of the most significant and glaring dilemmas is the rising number of human beings who have no place to live and very little, if any, food to eat. In other words, a growing number of individuals who are what we have collectively classified as “homeless.”
While overly ambitious newscasters clamoring for ratings continue to spoon-feed the drama of this high-profile Zimmerman murder trial to an audience all too willing to devote their free time and undivided attention to their television sets, an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people in the state of Florida are spending their days and nights on the streets, probably much more concerned, I presume, with where their next meal is coming from than the status of George Zimmerman’s criminal case.
I find it shocking that one criminal case can cause thousands of people across the United States to leave their homes and stand in solidarity to protest what they believe to be an injustice, but the fact that last year 633,782 people in the United States alone were without a place to call home does not even create a tiny ripple.
Where is everybody?
How are we choosing what is important to us…and what is not?
Is it that we assuming that someone else is taking care of this?
In the City of Orlando specifically, efforts by local activist groups to organize food offerings for our community’s homeless population in downtown parks have been strategically and legally blocked by local government at every angle over the past several years. The city has designated blue boxes painted on the sidewalks where homeless individuals are permitted to ask for and receive money. If they do so outside the blue lines, they are promptly arrested.
We can’t feed the hungry – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable.
We can’t offer financial assistance to the poorest of poor – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable.
And these people have nowhere to go – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable for them to go.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we should and do live in a world where it truly is each man or woman for him or herself. Maybe those men and women standing on the street corner with signs pleading for money don’t deserve the extra dollar or two I have tucked in the drink holder of my car and I should just continue to act as though I do not even see them. Perhaps that seemingly able-bodied man IS perfectly capable of getting a job and I shouldn’t enable his obvious choice not to work by throwing him a few bucks. Perhaps I should question why those souls who have come to share a portion of life’s journey with me have not experienced their own abundance in the way that I have. After all, they must have done something wrong to get to this point and this place, right? And finally, maybe it is entirely possible that the George Zimmerman trial is way more important than any of this, and that is where I should be focusing my thoughts and energy, as thousands of others are choosing to do.
I don’t think so.
I have never been homeless. But I have had times in my own life where stretching $20 in the grocery store for a week’s worth of meals for my family was a stark reality. And it is not difficult for me to recall many turning points in my life which pivoted upon a compassionate helping hand from someone else. So I’m just noticing. I’m just taking a closer look at what we as a society appear to be fixated on, what issues cause us take a stand, which events in life we choose to outwardly define ourselves by…and which ones we do not. I’m just noticing and wondering how we got here, why we are here, and asking: What will it take to change it?
“When someone enters your life unexpectedly,
look for the gift that person has come to receive from you…
I HAVE SENT YOU NOTHING BUT ANGELS.”
“Conversations with God” – Book 2
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)