Valdosta Daily Times

December 3, 2012

Living in the open


The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — As soon as Monday’s edition arrived in driveways and on the newsstands, readers began reacting to the story, “Life on Hard Ground,” about several individuals who are currently homeless and living under the downtown overpass.

All too often, the homeless are treated as invisible, unseen, unclean and unwanted, and few take the time to actually talk to them to find out why they’re where they are and what can be done for them. The VDT news reporter met several while covering a story on food giveaways and became interested enough to return and ask more questions. Unfortunately, within just a couple of hours of the interview, one of the men was assaulted and the news team headed back out to find him covered in blood — a head wound caused by a fight over food.

When is the last time you can remember fighting over food? Not because your family member took the last drum stick from the Thanksgiving turkey, but really, truly having to fight for food?  These men and women not only must fight for food every day but have to fight for shelter, clothing, and a thousand other things we all take for granted.

Some read that story and immediately wanted to assign blame to the individuals. It’s all their fault for the situation they are in. Well, not one of them denied having made choices that may have contributed to their situation, but individuals make bad decisions all of the time. Some are simply fortunate enough to have family connections, money or friends to mask those decisions and keep them afloat.

Without assigning judgment, there are numerous good Samaritans from our community who took the story to heart — who took the time to carry food, clothing and even a mattress to those living under the overpass.  They reached out and blessed these homeless individuals, serving as their family in a time of need.

A good Samaritan, according to the book of Luke, refers in a parable to a man who showed mercy to another in his time of need.

May we all be good Samaritans and learn to show mercy rather than judgment in our community’s time of need.