Monday, June 12, 2006

HOPE IN THE FACE OF HOMELESSNESS

A few years ago, after listening to me describe my conception that Horizon House (a homeless day center in Indianapolis I was charged with rebuilding; learn about it at www.horizonhouse.cc) be known as a place of “peace, hospitality, and hope,” one of our newer staff members shared with me the following quote. It is by Vaclav Havel, the poet-statesman who led the “quiet revolution” that overturned communism in Czechoslovakia and gave birth to the democratic Czech Republic (which, today, handed team USA a sound 3-0 defeat in the opening round of World Cup play):
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”

RUNNING COUNTER. To speak of hope in the context of homelessness is to dare to envision something which runs counter to the life experience and immediate trajectory of a neighbor who is currently experiencing homelessness. This vision may well also run counter to the perceptions of most citizens about homeless persons they encounter. It counters a social and economic system that continues to perpetuate homelessness. Hope envisions “home” as a life essential and pours passion and resources into the realization of it for all neighbors--beginning with the neighbor at the door.

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