Part 2 Hobos, Homelessness and Adapting to the Life

By: Jennifer Lawson-Zepeda

While writing about hobos, homelessness and adaption, I began to wonder how much the human being will adapt to humility. I’m a psychology freak, so forgive me…

Adapting to the unacceptable

I believe this is important in explaining how Americans have gone from a post Industrial society to where we are today. With huge numbers of citizens sleeping in public shelters and on the streets; and some adapting and accepting this plight as if they deserve nothing more, is this natural adaption?

In an article on adapting minds, Gintis explains the mind like this:

First…the human brain is extremely costly to nurture and maintain, its general contribution to human fitness must be high, and hence the brain must be an adaptation to the particular conditions under which our species evolved. Therefore, understanding these conditions may shed strong light on human psychology.

Second, the human brain’s information processing capacities are likely to be closely associated with the particular adaptive needs of our species, rather than being a simple, general purpose information processor. Thus, rather than being infinitely malleable, humans are predisposed to behave in certain ways in the sense that under a very broad range of environmental conditions some behaviors will be virtually universally exhibited and others will be extremely rare, while behaviors to which we are not predisposed will be exhibited either not at all, or only in a very restricted set of environmental circumstances.

(Source: Adapting Minds and Evolutionary Psychology∗ Herbert Gintis January 3, 2006 )

Social Adaption

Marx saw adaption as a theory of social progress — a dialectic of the human condition. He felt adaption was a new form of Humanism where people accepted what they need, instead of going after more than they need. He represented the conditions of the poor, in life and labor, and in relation to the industrial revolution with this in mind.

Today’s class struggle demonstrates Marx’s assumptions. The methods of production fundamentally have caused these struggles. We have created scenarios where human beings have been devalued to the point we remove their basic expectations for comfortable housing.

The world was prepared to believe much more easily in Darwin’s theory of biological evolution than it is today prepared to believe in a similarly definite doctrine of social evolution.

The method of evolution is not simply a recognition that things go through certain processes of development. We are not real evolutionists until we are willing to recognize that the processes of natural selection, of trial and rejection, of extermination and survival apply to moral principles and social ideals as well as to biological forms.

(Source: Social adaption: A study in the development of the doctrine of adaption as a theory of social progress, Lucius Moody Bristol)

What is self-efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief or views in their ability to succeed in a particular situation.  For instance, in the situation of homelessness, a newly homeless person might go through the process of identifying goals they want to accomplish to get shelter again. They might identify things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. Research has established a strong link between self-efficacy and psychological health. Especially during times of crisis.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy might view the problem of homelessness as a challenge they will overcome. They might apply themselves deeper into activities that would help them accomplish this goal. They would likely recover from the ups and downs of the disappointments of being homeless.

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy might avoid thinking about solutions to finding shelter. They might focus more on their personal failures. They could lose enough confidence to shift their attitude to acceptance of their current situation; even finding ways to romanticize it, idolize it and live down to those dreams.

Psychological tests on self efficacy have provided findings that shed light not only on how self-efficacy is manifested in everyday language; but also on how self-efficacy and other self evaluations operate in relation to each other during times of crisis.

  • First, when talking about their lives, bereaved participants did differentiate evaluations of their abilities from evaluations of actual actions and characteristics.
  • Second, participants who made positive evaluations of their abilities (i.e., expressed self-efficacy) had lower levels of grief over time while adjusting to bereavement, compared to those who did not express self efficacy.
  • Third, the relationship between grief and self-efficacy was independent of the relationships between grief and evaluations of one’s actual behaviors and characteristics.
  • Fourth, self-efficacy moderated the relationship between behavioral, but not character logical, self-evaluations and grief over time.

(Source: I Can, I Do, I Am: The Narrative Differentiation of Self-Efficacy and Other Self-Evaluations while Adapting to Bereavement; Bauer, Jack; Bonanno, George, November 2, 2001)

 

Children of the homeless and self efficacy

Scientists have found that self efficacy beliefs begin to form in early childhood as children deal with a wide variety of experiences, tasks, and situations. So, what happens to the views or self image of children exposed to extended homelessness.

According to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory, several behaviors help to develop one’s ability to bounce back through self efficacy:

  • Social Modeling – Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy.
  • Social Persuasion – Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.
  • Psychological Responses – Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation.

(Source: Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.)

So, will children who suffer homelessness for extended periods end up less likely to master self efficacy? Will a generation of children who have suffered through the experience of sleeping in a variety of shelters diminish a future generation’s ability to reach challenges? And how will this affect our society as a whole, with its capitalistic need to compete?

Self Deception

Self deception is the process of misleading ourselves into accepting an unrealistic truth of oneself.   For instance, imagine an anorexic woman looking into a mirror while you observe her. What you might see is an emaciated woman who looks unhealthy. What she might see is a fate woman who needs to lose ten more pounds to reach some image she has of herself as perfection. Of course, if she continues starving herself, she will only grow sick and die. But in her mind, she can never be the person she wants to be; so she denies herself the option of even being the best she can be.

This is done by homeless people too. They see themselves as that imperfect person who will never be accepted by society; after dealing with so many negative vibes from others. So, they accept a lesser goal for themselves. Instead of working hard to have a permanent home again, they settle into a romantic notion of living freely.

They conjure up romantic images of a survivalist, our nation’s hobos, people who have gleaned an identity based on poverty and acceptance of their financial situation; even turning it into an alternative lifestyle.

Natural selection and survival

Adaption is defined as physical or behavioral characteristics that allow one to better survive in their environment. But, is accepting homelessness adaption? When considering survival, it might seem that way.

Certainly, there could be adaption involved in accepting positive views of one’s current situation. And maybe it could be considered as a form of self efficacy too, if the person accepts the lifestyle as merely a step in a process of moving their life towards self sufficiency.

But in self sufficiency, people still have basic needs to enjoy fulfillment. They become autonomous, provide for themselves without the help of others and even gain a confidence in the choices they make.  If our primary animal needs — the needs we have to survive as a species, such as: subsistence, sex and work; then, is this adaptive process beneficial to a person who chooses to look upon homelessness this way?

I’m not so sure it is, either for the person or the species in general. It further alienates the person from society as a whole. And when a society accepts the poor as a social class that doesn’t even deserve the basic needs we all expect, such as the expectation of a home, we have a corrupted society.

Self Reliance, a Myth

Unfortunately, in today’s world it is nearly impossible to become completely self sufficient. We rely on another person to treat us for medical conditions. We need others to pay taxes to support infrastructure for communities. We need others to drive us when we don’t have vehicles, as in public transport systems. We need others to give us permission to lay our bed down at night; be it through purchasing a spot or asking to camp on a piece of property.

Therefore, no matter how much we withdraw from society and strike out on our own, at one time or another, we come under the domain of others to help us survive. If we subjugate ourselves to a position in life where others feel we are not taking life seriously, or view us as unimportant to society will they offer to help?

Self sufficiency is the ability to create shelter when we need it, provide food for ourselves, use tools sufficiently enough to survive. Self sufficient societies have the capacity to grow and evolve into different, more advanced societies as people discover better solutions to shelter and tools, or new ways to acquire food. This is a natural part of evolution.

New Societies of People

What we are seeing today in some homeless cultures could be the beginning of new societies of people learning to do without. How will this affect our economy in general? And how will a capitalist society deal with this new model?

What if people no longer pay taxes for working; after we have eliminated them from our societies through denying them employment and housing? Will a smaller number of people support basic services? Will the cost of these services go up accordingly?  To me, these are very real issues that could change the dynamics of society in the future if we don’t study the homeless condition and find solutions.  Capitalism hasn’t found these answers. Is it time that we find other social and economic models to address this?

 

16 Comments on “Part 2 Hobos, Homelessness and Adapting to the Life”

  1. Ok Jennifer. What you are saying is that you feel homeless people are being wronged and deprived of their basic rights. I agree. And you are putting your time into spreading awareness about their predicament, out of pure love. A very noble act indeed.

    Now, don’t get all defensive on me. My intention isn’t to attack you, or your article.

    What I’m trying to say is that, while you and I may feel that what’s happening to homeless people is “wrong” we are actually in no position to judge. You see, I believe we feel this way because we imagine ourselves in the homeless people’s position that we personally judge to be worse (or less comfortable) than our current condition; ie. I think I’m better off than homeless people right now, and I most certainly wouldn’t change places with them. But how do I know for sure that my own life-condition is any good? For all I know, I’m wasting my precious time on earth obsessing over nonsense. I even spend hours watching TV. Should I feel sorry for the homeless man who can’t sit back on his couch and watch TV? Maybe the homeless man should feel sorry for me the way I’m wasting my time. Who knows?

    So I believe the plain and simple truth is that we lack the ability to judge what is right or wrong for other people. And we also seem to lack the ability to judge what is right or wrong for ourselves.

    Consider this. Perhaps there is a reason why each and every person sleeping a homeless shelter tonight is where they are. A reason we can’t comprehend, because it is personal and belongs to each person individually. When I see a homeless man, I see a man whose path has led him to where he is. I cannot judge what is good or bad for that man, simply by categorizing him as “homeless.” Even if I got to know the man personally, I still wouldn’t be qualified to judge what is best for him.

    Have you even allowed for the possibility that maybe some people just need to be homeless and exploited? Isn’t that what rock bottom is for? So you can work your way back up..

    Also, again while you and I may believe that people are entitled to certain “rights,” this isn’t necessarily true. The truth is that this idea of “rights” is entirely a mental construct. I realize that certain bullies are shamelessly and ruthlessly exploiting the misfortunes and weaknesses of the homeless, but this is just nature. Do you blame the big bad wolf for killing poor little wabbits? Do you judge the HIV virus for making people sick? Do you judge tapeworms and other parasitic organisms? By law of nature herself, the strong is entitled to devour the weak.

    What I want to tell you is that I feel you are focusing your attention on irrelevant details. Instead of the plight of the homeless, I would really like to see a talented writer such as youself, write about the plight of humanity.

  2. Ph- I think I get what you’re saying. Yes privlege does not guarantee happiness, saftely or spirtual well being.

    However one cannot think about spiritual things until the body is fed, because of this I doubt many homeless or abused and abased people are thinking, “this is my Karma, this is good for me, I am going to grow, poor people with homes and excess.”

    It may be what is necessary for whomever, it may be the bottom. However it is a very bad thing that those of us with enough turn away from helping, that is bad for our Karma and we, the ones out of the gutters need these lessons.

  3. “while you and I may feel that what’s happening to homeless people is “wrong” we are actually in no position to judge.”

    Wrong! We SHOULD be judging what is happening to these people, because we should be living in this world with a sense of ethics.

    “You see, I believe we feel this way because we imagine ourselves in the homeless people’s position”

    Nope! I’ve BEEN in the homeless person’s position and know full well what I went through when I was there. I can’t speak for you. And I have been on the other side of that fence. I will never sucumb to the idea that some people deserve steak and others deserve the left over bones. It simply doesn’t blend with my Marxist theories on life. Simply, in the position I am today, I don’t think I’m better off than homeless people, I know it. Been there, done that and know the desperation of the homeless mind.

    “So I believe the plain and simple truth is that we lack the ability to judge what is right or wrong for other people.” And you see, I disagree with you. So there is our argument. We arrive at this from two polar different views of life. So, my question to you is this. If you really feel the way you claim, why are you trying to decide “what is right or wrong for” me to write about?

    “Have you even allowed for the possibility that maybe some people just need to be homeless and exploited?” No! I never have accepted that position. And I never will. It’s this little thing that drives me called a sense of ethics.

    Your argument reminds me of the same argument used during the civil rights era, when whites argued that it was the black man’s place to accept discrimination. It was argued then, that this was simply fate.

    “I would really like to see a talented writer such as yourself, write about the plight of humanity.”

    Obviously, you haven’t read all of my writing. Otherwise you might have seen me attack other causes and humanity in general.

  4. Grainne, well said. Privilege allows for the ability to fulfill something beyond basic needs: education, culture, civility — a number of ideas that one who is starving and scraping dirt for a right to exist, doesn’t have access to.

  5. I’ll describe this situation in different words, as you don’t seem to be getting my point.

    I know for a fact that Christian missionaries feel about the Amazonian “primitives” pretty much exactly like you feel about the homeless, Jen.

    These Amazonians have no concept of “home” the way we understand the term. The rainforest is home to them. Their children play in the dirt all day, eating worms and frogs. Compared to us, these people’s lives are a constant day to day struggle to survive, and after a hard day’s work they don’t even have soft beds to sleep on. I’d say the Amazonians are poor in an absolute sense because they have no concept of money at all.

    In countries like Iran today there are still populations of nomads who constantly move around the desert with their livestock. A civilised man wouldn’t be able to handle the hardships of their lifestyle for a single day IMO.

    But, I don’t believe it is “right” to feel sorry for the poor dirty illiterate Amazonians or the nomads; because for all I know they may be living better lives than I am.

    I think all I could ever do to “help” the ‘homeless’ would be to wish they were more like me. (ie. more priviledged) This is the exact attitude that destroyed Amazonian culture at the hands of the missionaries.

    Why should everyone be like me? Everyone is who they are; their life on earth is theirs individually, and it bears the mark of their personality.

    I honestly don’t see a “homeless problem” on earth today. But I do see a human problem of vast proportions. This feeling you have for the homeless, Jennifer, it has another side that you may or may not know of. The other side of compassion is envy IMO. You can’t have one without the other the way I see it.

    Sympathy can’t exist without jealousy, IMO. At its most basic level, I could say that I feel sorry for the poor because I envy the rich.

  6. And Grainne, I’m sorry sweety, but I don’t think you get what I’m saying.

    “Yes privlege does not guarantee happiness, saftely or spirtual well being.”

    What I’m trying to say is that what you and I consider privilege might not even really be privilege at all. In what way is having a home and a salary a privilege? What advantage do we (people who have homes) have over homeless (Amazonians, nomads or bums in LA) people? It’s actually an obligation as far as I’m concerned. And it certainly doesn’t lead us to freedom (spiritual or otherwise.)

    I think if we take into consideration that our inevitable fate is death; then the whole idea of “what is privilege” changes dramatically.

    Life is.. sometimes homeless, sometimes in a home.. Neither is “good” or “bad” IMO.

  7. Ph…you say, “I know for a fact that Christian missionaries feel about the Amazonian “primitives” pretty much exactly like you feel about the homeless, Jen.”

    This statement reminds me of people from American culture telling me what Latinas have endured; or think, or feel. Simply, it presumes you know what is in my heart more than I do. Excuse me, but I don’t think you have any idea of what I feel about the homeless.

    But let me explain my feelings to you, so you understand. In my short time from February to June of 2011, living as a homeless person, I had an opportunity not only to befriend many in my position; but have endless cups of coffee with them, discussing our plight. The concept of “home” as you can imagine, was a repeated discussion with us.

    Having experienced something beyond Amazonian day-to-day living, the homeless Americans I spoke to, each had a home at one time. We had each grown up in American culture, where a home was a basic expectation. Most of us had once been middleclass wage earners, members of a specific financial class of people. None of us had grown up in third world hunter-gatherer conditions; so the life of an Amazonian was not looked upon with either affection or disdain. It simply wasn’t a concept we thought of each night when we subjected ourselves to the demands of winter shelters or transitional shelters.

    However, in El Salvador, I came about as close to the third world existence that I doubt, even you with your stories of poverty and existence lifestyles understands. I lived in what is called a meson — a room without a toilet, kitchen, or other things most modern societies expect. I washed my laundry by hand, in a cement sink riddled with bacteria that I knew was dangerous. I cleaned my vegetables in that same cement sink where baby’s bottoms were washed. In short, I lived on the run in a manner that enabled me to know the difference between the way we live and how some others live.

    In Jamaica, I lived in a shack that one could see between the slats of wood that held the shack together. I was bitten each night by mosquitos that could have given me malaria. There, I also washed my clothing by hand and used an out house, and washed my (waist-length at that time) hair with a pale of water. So I hardly need you to explain different lifestyles to me. I could probably cite survival techniques to many. And yet, there are people who have lived a rougher life than me.

    And it is because of living in these manners that I feel it is beneath civilization to create the conditions that allow so many to exist without basic things that others of us consider day-to-day norms. And it is because of living in these manners that I know that there are few people who know the difference between having a toilet and not, who would seek poverty.

    I also know there are many of privilege who feel a need to subjugate themselves, for whatever reasons they may have, to living poor. It’s almost as if they feel a need to experience poverty to reinforce their views of denouncing all things material. I’m not one of these. No more than I’m a Latina who feels a need to experience racism in order to know I don’t like it.

    What I saw in El Salvador was more real than the self-inflicted pretentious poverty any American can impose upon themselves. Because, I watched the 1% persecute these folks TO EXTREMES! They imposed persecution on the 99% in every form they could. Not only from denial of the basic right to work; but in the pricing of food, the packaging of food to elicit the most profit…even pricing it higher than U.S. markets for a people whose median income was so far below ours. In hiding respiratory medicines that could have made their lives easier, so that they could elevate the prices of THEIR line of pharmaceuticals. In the way they tried to get out of paying these people for the work they performed. I watched people who couldn’t afford security get murdered. I watched those who had denounced the rich elite become the criminal elite, and in turn, murder busloads of people.

    I think it’s rich that you are trying, so condescendingly, to “explain” homelessness to me. But I think you are the one that doesn’t understand. You have chosen to toss aside the concept of home. I have not. Both of us ultimately know we have a choice, though. And what you don’t understand, is THIS is why I write about the condition of homelessness. Not because I pity these people, or myself, or anyone. But because the idea that the wealthy elite are so disgustingly smug and arrogant about maintaining the conditions that exploit these people is offensive to me.

    What has missed you in your rant is the fact that most people in abject poverty DON’T know the choice that you take for granted. And they would find you extremely silly and vacuous for choosing something they would love to give up.

    People in third world countries, like you’ve mentioned make due with what they have, sometimes seeing through various media, something better. If you ask them if they would trade places with a you, they would, GLADLY. You see, they have no liberal guilt. They only have poverty. They have death of family members and the inability to pay for a funeral. They have poor health, sometimes no limbs and a yearning to have limbs so they can work harder to provide for their kids. You have the knowledge that if your life goes downhill, our government will help in ways these people would only pray for. So, forgive me if I’m not buying your analysis. But I lived among these people and know better.

  8. Well, you yourself have described your feelings, in much detail, in two threads and many posts. I think I understand how you feel, or at least I have a very good idea.

    Listen, Jennifer, I know what being homeless is like, and yes through firsthand experience. I also know what it’s like to be ‘homeless’ outside of civilization in the wild. I tell you, being homeless in a big city isn’t even really all that bad as being homeless in a desert. Don’t believe me? Drive out to death valley and just spend a day there, imagining what it would be like if you were ‘lost,’ ‘alone’ and ‘homeless’ out there.

    What you have “endured” (OMG you had to use an outhouse? The horror.) is absolutely nothing compared to one day in the life of nomads and hunter-gatherers living on earth today. You just sound incredibly weak (no offense) and you definitely sound like you feel sorry for yourself.

    Life is hard, Jennifer. And no one is under any obligation to make life easier for you and me, except ourselves. I’m really sorry that your life has been so awful, or at least you feel it has. I would say that you could have enjoyed those days without obsessively indulging in self-pity, if you had stopped believing that you “deserved better.”

    I think the people who end up homeless in cities are the weakest, stupidest people on earth. The weakest people on earth are an easy target, of course. Solution? Stop being weak and stupid.

    You say you find it offensive that certain rich people are exploiting the homeless, and you say that this is the reason you write about this issue. I say, why concern yourself with matters that you couldn’t possibly ever affect? Why not put your energy where it could actually make a difference?

    And in parting, I’ll tell you that I think your understanding of third world nations is a fantasy-illusion at best.

    Take it easy.

  9. Ph, first of all, you aren’t representing Amazonian tribes accurately. I’ll credit that to naivety. It’s obvious you chose them from some recall of a PBS special. Because you are under the mistaken assumption that Amazon tribes are homeless; and this is absolutely untrue. Just as Paraguayan tribes, African tribes and other hunter-gatherer tribes still existing today have homes. They may not meet YOUR definition of housing, but they do have shelter.

    The idea that hunter gatherer tribes in the Amazon have no exposure to outside cultures is preposterous too. The Amazon tribes have been invaded by the curious for decades and even brought some of them to near extinction; so you are a bit naive in this presumption too. Why are they nearly extinct? Because when many of them learn of the advancements societies have made, they gravitate toward this. They may not share our technological advances; but they certainly understand the concept of shelter.

    They not only build individual huts of reeds and grasses, but some live in large communal dwellings, known as malocas clustered in the forest. They do this so they can grow their own food: corn crops, nut and banana trees.

    That you compare this to the homeless people of America tells me you have very little concept of homelessness today. The homeless do not generally have access to plots of land to grow their produce. They do not have the autonomy of shelter. This begs the argument of using hunter gatherer tribes as an example of accepting homelessness in the U.S., in my mind.

    As for the Iranian nomads, they also enjoy a form of housing in nomadic tents. Yet, there are articles that even the Iranian nomad cultures are dwindling. Why would this be, if indeed, this lifestyle was satisfying? And once again, these people have a sense of wanting to advance into modern day standards, whether that is acceptable to us or not.

    But living as nomads, they are free to put up tents without asking permission; where in the U.S., this could lead to trespassing charges. So even they have the autonomy of a form of domestication that the homeless in the U.S. do not enjoy. They are not so much homeless as nomadic. They choose to live this life; it is not cast upon them. Try to be nomadic in the U.S. It is likely you will be arrested if you end up setting your shelter up in the wrong place. Then, try to drive your herd of livestock across private lands. Even you can’t believe you’d get away with this!

    It’s arguments like this that shows you have no idea of what I’m saying. If I’m not being clear in my writing, I can accept that. But clearly, if you are using the examples of Amazon hunter gatherer tribes and Iranian nomadics, you aren’t getting what I’m saying.

    Other than that, your assumptions about me are the foundation of hilarity. And your assumptions that the homeless in most cities are “weak” is even more hilarious, if not pitiful and self serving. You completely overlook the mental health of some of these folks who exist on the streets, discount things like women who have overcome abusive households for years and then make it with their children on the streets, scoff at people who have overcome a number of situations that would challenge you if you were presented with them. Certainly, MY situation would have likely had you crapping your pants and begging for help. So forgive me if I laugh at your generalizations and presumptuous attitude about me and others.

    That you have no idea of how people in third world countries live from day to day — not in the desert, but right in the armpit of bustling cities tells me why you can’t understand why people should try to take up the cause of helping the homeless. Because their example is a strong one of how bad persecution and greed can go.

    The fact is that in America we are moving from the days of home ownership of the fifties — where the huge growth of suburbs and the ideal of a suburban lifestyle was born; to communities of empty homes, foreclosed upon and abandoned and being torn down when we have the highest percentage of homeless ever. If you don’t get the ramifications of this and how this has potential to enslave Americans grounded in poverty, then I pity you.

  10. Jen, just today I saw a couple of homeless guys “constructing” a shelter in the woods using cardboard boxes. Of course the Amazonians and the nomads understand the concept of shelter! But our homes are much more than just shelter to us; they are an altogether different thing. Our homes actually define us these days.

    The concept of the nomadic tent or the Amazonian shabono is definitely not the same thing as a civilized home.

    I compare the Amazonians to homeless people in cities in that they are both survivalists who face life as it comes day by day, always unsure of what tomorrow will bring. But where the Amazonians are jungle survivalists, I think it’s accurate to call the urban homeless “street survivalists” as you yourself were calling them last month.

    By constrast, people like you and I who live in homes have no idea what survival even means; we have routines instead.

    But still, after all your arguments, I see no evidence that having a home makes you and I truly more privileged than homeless people; because to me life isn’t about achieving stable routines that lead to predictability, safety and comfort. Life is just a pit stop on our trip to infinity; and in the face of infinity the homeless man and the man with home are absolutely equal.

    All things considered, you could argue that having a home is more comfortable than being homeless and I would agree. But I would tell you that being comfortable is not really a privilege.

  11. Amazon Tribes walk through life without patterns? Really? Where did you earn this? Absolutely not. Read about the life of a member of an Amazon tribe.

    Have you ever taken a survival class? I did. I spent over a week in the Sonora desert with nothing, at the guidance of a Trique Indian, many years ago, for a book I was writing. I can tell you that what I learned in that week was amazing; but my time wasn’t spent “facing life as it comes.” No one that approached life that way would survive. My life was much more regimented trying to survive than it is now. It has to be. It was a lot of work finding food. Your day revolves around daylight, and when you are using primitive tools accomplishing many things takes more effort.

    Also, you act as if these tribes spend a wanderlust life of traveling all of the time and seeing new things instead of farming. That’s not true. They set up communities and know their areas intimately. They have to for survival. They have very set routines for survival: tool making, planting seed, harvesting, shelter building, shelter repairs, cooking, etc. As communities, they have other traditions for marriage, childbirth, even to belong to the community. You have a fantasy assumption about the Amazon Tribes you reference.

    Let’s move to the homeless now. When you consider the types of people who generally become homeless, it changes the dynamics of what shelter means to them. Homelessness isn’t a conscious choice for most people. They have ended up this way. They are not the neo hobo nomads; or, retired senior citizens choosing to live a nomadic life style in a Winnabago. They are people who have had normal lives with normal expectations and huge catastrophic episodes that robbed them of an otherwise normal life.

    Surviving in shelters is so far from what you describe that it’s laughable. Even surviving on the streets is different than your assumptions. Most homeless people wake each day in a shelter, at the same hour — around 6 a.m. when the shelter kicks them out. They wander all day to seek warmth, a place to sit without being harassed by the police, they cart their belongings around with them to avoid having them thrown away or robbed, and they grow exhausted carting their belongings about. So this doesn’t leave a great deal of time to enjoy this wanderlust exciting life you insist they have.

    Especially if you count the hours they wait in lines to enter shelters, to take showers, to get food. Those who break the pattern of standing in these lines and learn to adjust their schedule to miss one meal and use the time to change their lives to get away from this lifestyle, may have a better chance to survive this.

    But for most homeless people, they overcome the drudgery of this life of pulling belongings from place to place, through endless embarrassing searches and metal detectors.

    But here’s where you are wrong about shelter being a privilege. The fundamental right to peacefully coexist among us and seek shelter is something recognized by most psychiatrists as a basic human need. The homeless challenge our moral boundaries and what we as humanity will allow others to endure; and/or, how low we will allow our moral boundaries to decline. When we rob human beings of that fundamental right, we open doors to remove other social rights and expectations. We remove the legitimacy of a government. This leads to a decline in civilization and it is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created, which lists the following articles:

    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25) –

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 28, cf. Article 22)

    You can wrap your analysis up in a ribbon and bow and it doesn’t make it true. Homelessness is not acceptable to anyone with a sense of ethics. And those who are homeless and have convinced themselves that they are some form of survivalist don’t understand the basic definition of the word, “survival.” Because survival means to endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.) That implies that you overcome it; not that you accept it.

  12. I think, since the basic context of this article is a question of how good adaption would be in terms of our present society, i’d have to agree that it isn’t very beneficial. We are a society constructed on laws, on contracts, on a monetary value system that assumes we all wish to live in good housing, with clean water and plenty of food. Most people find that type of social goal appetizing and are willing to work to achieve it. However, if they discover that no matter how hard they work, they are only going to gain the most minimal standards for existence, they are going to become discouraged, resulting in a society where housing and living standards become lower and lower.

    However, i have no overt repulsion to a nomadic society. Our cities are too large, too populated, too polluted. They are caving in on themselves. They are nourishing themselves with energy drinks, vitamins and non-nourishing corporate farmed foods. They are warding off diseases with artificial drugs that weaken the immune system. The nomads have the best chance of survival in this coming age unless we turn around now with policies that will make the cities and the suburbs more biologically harmonious and balanced with nature. I don’t see that happening. I see business people and politicians sitting on their hands, trying to figure out ways to squeeze out the last penny from the public before the whole she-bangs washes down the tube.

  13. Karlsie, I’m not sure anyone has a problem with nomadic communities that exist today. There are plenty of them in the senior citizen sector, for instance. They buy motor homes or sailboats and spend the rest of their lives on the road or on the oceans. There are professions for younger people that lend to a nomadic lifestyle; people who fight huge oil rig fires who are always on the go…wherever the next disaster is and they are paid well for this. There are nursing professions who tour the world as well and live in a semi-nomadic manner, only with more luxury than classic desert nomads. But in the old sense of raising livestock, I doubt we will see a huge resurgence of that; mostly because of the legal, unless it happens in the plains of Africa or the Pampas of Argentina.

    You make good points about the biological and ecological need to change things. And I’m sure we could learn a few things from the nomadic cultures and hunter gatherers as well. But I don’t think we would apply those practices in the traditional sense they use it; but more as an application to our current mode of living.

    My argument in all of this has been for human rights, more than anything. I feel human beings should have the right to choose; the ability to have autonomy when they do; and the freedom to enjoy whatever they choose. I do not want the model of what I saw in El Salvador…which seems to be coming here, where only the wealthy dictate the lifestyle of others, through price fixing.

  14. karlsie, I’d been looking at this thing taking my personal death as a point of reference; but now that you mention it what is the point of a home in a corrupt society that is at most a few years away from its own death?

    I realize there are plenty of people who don’t take this idea seriously, and still think and behave as if our society were absolutely perfect and a long way from the end. I see that these people who (secretly) believe society is perfect are shouting “ME LIKE HUMAN RIGHTS!!” and “HOMEZ ARE GEWD!!” — as if it mattered.

    But I think if we take society’s inevitable death into account; it makes absolutely no difference if one has a home or not, because in a few years we will all be homeless. And this is guaranteed 100% I think.

  15. LOL…Stop watching hokey religious nuttery, telling the world it is ending soon and we will all be going to hell.

    Think of it as one grand party — sort of like high school, where the good kids go to heaven and the rest of us party too much in purgatory and are finally sent to join our friends, in hell. I like hot places. I’ll fit in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.