The worst line that has ever been used to ask me out started with, “You work with homeless people? Awesome. I met this bum the other day…”
“Bum?!” I hastily replied. “That’s reeeeeal nice, I bet you made him feel so special when you called him that…” And then proceeded to use enough colorful words to ensure we no longer had a ride home and would be taking a taxi out of downtown San Diego. (tact has never come easy for me.)
Now, I understand that, that word is often used in a way that is not meant to be offensive and to be honest, I think it’s used by some of the most well-meaning people, but this should not be. Homeless people are not bums. Homeless people are not junkies, crackheads, hobos or hookers. Homeless people are human beings without homes.
I recently asked a group of my residents what, when they were six, they wanted to be when they grew up. I heard several firemen, professional athletes and doctors. (Mind you, I was the only one who said bunny, grandma and dolphin trainer.) Nobody said they wanted to be mentally ill, a slave to addiction or shunned by their family for loving someone of their same gender. Nobody said they wanted to make bad investments, put trust in the wrong people or lose their family in a tragedy. Nobody said they wanted to be outcast by society. And certainly nobody said they wanted to be called a bum, a crackhead or a junkie. So let’s stop.
This last week I was given the great honor to meet and soak in the words of one great artist named Micah Bournes (That’s pronounced Bourneigh for all you uncultured folks. read: me.) Right out the gate he shared a piece that left me cheering, raising my fist and in tears. I obviously had to befriend him.
Below you will find a video of said piece and the words to accompany it, check it out and long, pray and fight with me, for the days when we will learn to value each one of brothers and sisters as such, taking the time to see, not just look, listen, not just hear and love, not just tolerate.
and returned to its pocket. The man responded
Were his parents really that indecisive?
Maybe he has a name and just likes messing with people’s heads.
Maybe his stone cold persona is a façade as he snickers on the inside knowing I’m trying
to figure out how or if to respond.
Maybe he’d rather be called nothing at all than the name of the man who abandoned him,
or body slammed him, or touched his private parts.
Maybe he’s still traumatized by the jingle kids sung on the jungle gym.
Maybe he has a lisp and can’t pronounce his own name right so he refuses to try.
Maybe he’s been called everything except his name for so long that he forgot what it was.
Maybe he’d be quicker to answer to bastard, or nigger, or hobo, or bum.
we knew who he was, or what he’s done.
state, this man claims to be nameless.
Nor does he bother to wish.
He just ,sits, hoping to be ignored, or, expecting to.
Because before I made an exit,
(***oh and also, do yourself a favor and check out the rest of his work…and then thank me, I accept cash, checks and uncracked iPhones.)