Two years ago, I made a post on an internet forum about homelessness, offering to answer questions on the subject, given that the overwhelming majority of people on the forum (like the overwhelming majority of people in the real world) were fairly misinformed on the subject.
Much to my surprise, this thread quickly became very active and popular. People asked questions and instead of arguing, they paid attention to the answers. Leslie and Charles joined to talk about their experiences and field questions, and there was a surprising amount of press involved in the whole thing. (Several times over the next year, I would find threads and forums elsewhere where libertarians and other such creatures attempted to discredit my opinions and experiences.)
Countless people posted or messaged to say that they had gone out of their way to give money to a person they usually walk by, bought a street kid mittens and a meal, or volunteered at a soup kitchen. Posts by activists and advocates on the internet are a dime a dozen, but this one actually made a difference to a few cold and hungry people around the world. I didn’t think much about it when I started the thread, but by the end of it I was floored at the impact it had on people.
Every now and then, I’ll get an email or message out of the blue from someone who read the thread. Today is one of those days.
While wandering around in the forums, I stumbled upon a thread asking about homeless people. In this thread, someone linked to another one in the archives. I’m sure you know what I’m about to say; it was yours.
Now, if it had just been a good read, I wouldn’t bother you. Good threads aren’t hard to find. But your thread didn’t entertain me, it changed me. I know it sounds cheesy, like something you’d hear on an infomercial about a revolutionary abs machine, but it’s true.
I’ve taken the Montreal Subway for 5 years now, and I’ve always looked at the homeless people with, at best, disgust, and at worst, hatred. Even worse, I don’t know why. I guess I was convinced that being homeless was a result of laziness… Deep inside, I knew it wasn’t, but I didn’t care enough to look for another reason, so I convinced myself it was.
Your thread from 2005 really opened my eyes, and will definitely change the way I look at homeless people, and more importantly, act with them. I thought you deserved to know that I feel like you enlightened me, like I’m sure you did for a lot of people here.
Thank you for teaching things you don’t learn in school.