July 23, 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Think (Day 1 - July 23, 2011)

That Poverty Guy (Sean Krausert)
Day One - Clean Shaved / 233 lbs

This is the first of what will be a daily blog . . . chronicling my experiences and thoughts throughout That Poverty Project.

When not inhabiting a tent, I have a reminder on my desk that says . . . "Don't believe everything you think." Those words kept coming back to me today.

If you asked me yesterday, I would have told you that I really thought that I wouldn't learn anything on the first day of the project. Well think again Seannie-boy . . . everyday is a day for learning. Everyday offers the opportunity to re-examine what we think.  For example, when I was putting up the tent this morning I had trouble getting the pegs into the ground. My first thought was, "Better get a hammer." Then I realized that I don't have a hammer (well I do . . . but I don't for the project), and went in search of a suitable rock. Another example happened when I was eating the lunch provided for me (sandwich, carrot sticks, piece of fruit, and a pickle). As I was gobbling down my food, it was disconcerting to realize that I was not in control of when I would eat again. It reminded me of a US Marine Captain I met in Washington DC a number of years back. We were going through a buffet line and I noticed his plate was stacked monstrously high when he remarked, "Gotta get it while you can 'cuz you don't know when the next time you'll get grub."

In fact, this first day felt partly like heading out on a military mission and partly like having lost my home, as if from a disaster or something. In fact, that leads me to another example of where people must not believe everything they think.

In our society, when asked about homelessness, most people will think of a "bum" . . . a dirty downtrodden drunk living and begging on the streets. While this is what most people think of, most people would be wrong. The vast majority of the world's homeless are so because of being driven from their homes due to natural disaster or conflict, or live in shanty towns or slums due to general lack of resources amongst the population. Only a minority are the "bums" or street people we often think of, and we are even mistaken about those, too. Many homeless on the streets have suffered a hardship or battle an affliction or addiction that has resulted in them falling through the cracks. They're people just like you and me, but in need of a helping hand to get on their feet. Further, some homeless people have jobs, but do not earn enough to put a roof over their heads. Hmmm . . . things that make one re-think what they believe to be true.

As I head into my first night in the tent, I hope that I will be warm enough and that the tent won't leak or get blown away. But . . . as I hope to remember in the middle of the night . . . this is nothing compared to what many will endure tonight - those who do not have any shelter, those who will not have food in their stomachs, and those who have families living in the same conditions.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

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