1,000 Words: The homeless

Today’s 1,000 Words comes with words.

It’s the voice of Jae Hong, a photographer for the Associated Press, whose assignment was to document the homeless crisis in the West.

“I saw so much of people in their rawest moments that I couldn’t bring myself to take photos of some of it,” he says in a first-person account on the Associated Press blog.

Watch the eyes.

I wish I understood the problem of homelessness better than before. Truth is I’m more confused than ever. I can’t see a solution.

I made plenty of mistakes growing up. We all did. But my parents loved me and supported me. My mother even gave up her job as a school teacher in South Korea so my brother and I could study in the U.S. How many on Skid Row had that luxury?

I now live in a two-bedroom condo in a gated community. The refrigerator is full of food. There’s a hot shower and comfortable bed.

  • RBHolb

    It’s easy to forget the humanity of people who aren’t like us. It’s especially easy when those people are on the margins of society.

    Riding the train to my office this morning, three sets of seats were taken up by people sleeping. Their belongings were strewn on other seats. One couple had covered themselves, heads and all, with a blanket.

    My first reaction was disgust. How dare they take up all that space? Then I reflected how cold I was walking the two blocks from my house to the train, and how grateful I was for the relative shelter of the station after even that short trip outdoors. I started to wonder what I would do if I were homeless. I remembered those hard times when I really did wonder where I would be tomorrow. How would I have managed? What if my only privacy, my only shelter from the eyes of censorious strangers, was a blanket pulled over my head?

    I can’t say that I like the sight of people camped out on the train, but I know that it was likely no one’s first choice. I don’t know why anyone was on the train this morning. It isn’t important. What’s important is that we start by remembering that we are all human. We all have a story, good, bad, inspiring, or disgusting.

    So thank you for bringing this story to our attention, Bob. Another thank you to Jae Hong, for such an eloquent work.

  • Doug

    Truly heartbreaking. I made enough had decisions in my life where I could’ve easily ended up one of them. Instead I have a comfortable life. Life isn’t fair, not by a long shot.