We feel compelled to write a response to Karen Champion's "Homeless not just victims" on April 29. She stated that it used to be the case that "bums, derelicts, hoboes, winos and drifters," as she called them, "suggested some degree of responsibility" for the condition they found themselves in.
She said that a bum or derelict "presumably got that way because there was something wrong with them," but that unfortunately today, they have been "promoted to homeless" and that using the word homeless instead of the more negative adjectives somehow makes them seem more like victims instead of people responsible for their situation. She believes that only those who are true victims - those who find themselves in situations beyond their control - should be labeled homeless.Where is any compassion, Karen? If you really knew anything about the homeless, you would know that many homeless today are families with hard-working parents who have found themselves in terrible circumstances and many different situations. Some may be victims of employment downsizing or struggling with huge medical or other bills. Would we call these families "bums"? Or would they qualify for the title "homeless"?
Many of us are fortunate to have family or friends we could turn to in need, but there are many people who don't have that option.
Many of whom you may call bums, men who are sleeping under the viaducts, fought for our country in the Vietnam War. What a terrible word to call men who risked their lives to help others.
Unless you know the story behind every man, woman and child who has ever found himself or herself homeless, how can you make the judgment as to what name they should be called? How about we don't label people at all?
The real tragedy is that, in a population of a wealthy, late-20th century, industrialized nation, there are any people without the basic necessities of life.
Benjamin and Rebecca Timm