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The Philosophy of a Homeless Sage (An Interview by Ms. Grace Gabbi)

Updated: Feb 9


Portrait of John Duran. Credit: Unknown

(Disclaimer: The guest posts do not necessarily align with Philosocom's manager, Mr. Tomasio Rubinshtein's beliefs, thoughts, or feelings. The point of guest posts is to allow a wide range of narratives from a wide range of people. To apply for a guest post of your own, please send your request to mrtomasio@philosocom.com)



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Abstract


This article is an interview with a sage, a writer (John Duran) a citizen of the USA out of his experiences of being a homeless person for much of his life. It explores the complex issue of homelessness, a hidden population facing the harsh realities of life without a permanent residence. It delves into its root causes, impact on individuals and communities, and ongoing efforts to address this societal challenge. The article challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness, highlighting the economic factors and daily struggles faced by those without stable housing.


It also examines the role of governmental policies and their negligence, community initiatives, and public perception in shaping the landscape of homelessness. The aim is to foster understanding and empathy, sparking conversations towards effective solutions and a more compassionate society.


(Mr. Rubinshtein's note: It also covers the mentality of a man who is seasoned in being homeless, and the things we can learn from him. I also added a few words myself).

Interview & Insights


A first question to him was:


What are the main causes of homelessness?


He emphatically answered: “Poverty, ignorance, heartlessness, and ridiculous conditions for renters, along with absurd rental amounts".


The following point was drawn: Poverty: Economic hardship, insufficient income, and limited access to resources can lead to homelessness. Individuals and families facing poverty may struggle to afford basic necessities, including housing.


Ignorance: Lack of awareness or understanding about the root causes of homelessness can perpetuate societal misconceptions. Educating communities about the complex factors contributing to homelessness is essential for fostering empathy and informed solutions.


Heartlessness: A lack of compassion or empathy toward individuals experiencing homelessness can hinder efforts to address the issue. Building a compassionate society involves recognizing the humanity of those facing homelessness and working towards supportive and inclusive communities.


Ridiculous Conditions for Renters: Unaffordable and challenging rental conditions, such as high rents, lack of tenant protections, and substandard housing, can contribute significantly to homelessness. Addressing these issues requires a focus on affordable housing policies and tenant rights.


Absurd Rental Amounts: Unreasonable rental costs relative to income levels can make it difficult for individuals and families to secure stable housing. Affordable housing initiatives and rent control measures can play a role in mitigating this challenge.


However, addressing homelessness effectively often involves a comprehensive approach that tackles these root causes. This includes implementing policies to alleviate poverty, raising awareness to dispel misconceptions, promoting empathy and compassion, advocating for tenant rights, and working towards affordable housing solutions. By addressing these interconnected issues, communities can strive to create environments where homelessness is less likely to occur, and support systems are in place to help those in need.


He concluded by saying: “I was homeless for 35 years across 46 states. I believe it's the future for millions more Americans”


Here comes the second question:


What initiatives or strategies are being implemented to address homelessness?


"There are reasons many homeless avoid staying in shelters, and it's not what the media portrays".


Certainly, there are various reasons why some homeless individuals may choose to avoid staying in shelters, and these reasons often go beyond what may be portrayed in the media. Here are some common factors:


Safety Concerns: Shelters can be overcrowded, and conflicts may arise among residents. Concerns about personal safety, theft, or violence may lead individuals to avoid staying in shelters.


Lack of Privacy: Shelters often provide limited privacy, with shared sleeping quarters and communal facilities. Some individuals may value their privacy more, and find the communal living conditions uncomfortable.


Rules and Regulations: Shelters typically have rules and regulations governing behavior, curfews, and restrictions on personal belongings. Some individuals may prefer the autonomy of living on the streets rather than adhering to the rules of a shelter.


Substance Use Policies: Shelters often have strict rules regarding substance use. Those struggling with addiction may avoid shelters due to the restrictions on alcohol or drug use.


Traumatic Experiences: Some homeless individuals may have experienced trauma, including abuse or violence, which can make staying in a communal setting emotionally challenging. Shelters may be triggering for individuals with traumatic backgrounds.


Mental Health Concerns: Individuals with mental health issues may find the chaotic and crowded environment of shelters overwhelming. The lack of mental health support in some shelters can also be a discouragement.


Stigma and Discrimination: Homeless individuals may face stigma and discrimination in shelters, affecting their sense of dignity and well-being. This social aspect can influence their decision to avoid shelters.


Limited Accommodations for Couples and Pets: Shelters may not always have suitable accommodations for couples or individuals with pets. For those with companions or service animals, the lack of options can be a barrier.


Previous Negative Experiences: Some individuals may have had negative experiences in shelters, such as encountering theft, violence, or unsanitary conditions, which can lead them to avoid such facilities in the future.


Understanding these reasons is crucial for developing more effective homeless support systems. Addressing safety concerns, providing mental health services, and offering more flexible and accommodating shelter options can contribute to making shelters more accessible and appealing to those in need.

What are the current homelessness statistics in the USA?


"All wrong, don't believe what they claim. According to the official record, the USA has just over half a million. But it's far close to a 5 million".


What kind of support and resources are available for homeless individuals?


"Very restricted ones, as well as indentured servitude. Shelters are mainly cesspools, and worthless. Homelessness is a deep black pit. Once fallen into, people rarely get out".


The perspective shared by the individual highlights the challenges and frustrations often associated with homelessness. Here are some aspects to consider in response to these concerns:


Limited Support and Resources: The observation about very restricted support suggests a need for increased and more comprehensive support systems for homeless individuals. This could include expanded access to healthcare, mental health services, employment assistance, and affordable housing programs.


Indentured Servitude Concerns: If there are concerns about exploitation or unfair labor practices resembling indentured servitude, it is essential to investigate and address these issues. Ensuring fair treatment and dignity for homeless individuals is crucial in any support system.


(Mr. Rubinshtein's note: Instead of being triggered by information we are presented, it is important to not be too quick to judge, and investigate rather than argue. After all, we don't always have knowledge like we think we do. It is far better to respect what we don't necessarily know, than to mock it and, as a result, abuse the mentality of the person who may have the knowledge you might not have. Not only it's arrogant but degrading and counter-intuitive for your quest of knowledge. Why would someone you laughed at, feel compelled to give you information?).


Criticisms of Shelters: The characterization of shelters as "cesspools" and "worthless" underscores the need for improvements in shelter conditions. Enhancing the quality of shelters, addressing safety concerns, and creating more welcoming environments are essential steps in encouraging homeless individuals to seek shelter.


Perception of Homelessness as a Deep Pit: The sentiment that "homelessness is a deep black pit" reflects the profound challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness. Addressing the root causes of homelessness, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, and systemic issues, is critical for creating paths out of homelessness.


Long-Term Impact: The statement that "once fallen into, people rarely get out" highlights the long-term and systemic nature of homelessness. It underscores the need for sustained efforts to provide ongoing support, including mental health services, job training, and affordable housing solutions.


In response to these concerns, communities and policymakers can work towards developing comprehensive strategies that go beyond immediate shelter provision. This includes addressing the underlying issues that contribute to homelessness and providing supportive services to help individuals rebuild their lives. Collaboration between government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the community can contribute to more effective and compassionate solutions for those experiencing homelessness.


What role does the government play in addressing homelessness?


"They treat them like trash, garbage to be "moved along" as they lock the homeless up, outta sight, outta mind, just for existing. What a life!"


Does it mean they lack human conscience?


"No, they care for themselves, and the ones in their circles, I think this is negligence of the highest order"


How does the public perceive and respond to homelessness?


"With disdain and unreasonable hate. They have a "Kick them when they're down" mentality".


What then is a hope for the homeless child?



What was it like?


"Acceptance and setting down one's burdens of accomplishment... It freed me to become what I am now".


Then our discussion ended with:


What's your advice to the homeless?


"Be resilient, be strong, rely upon no one".


Mr. Tomasio Rubinshtein's Bonus

Never play the victim, even if you are one. Victimhood feeds on itself, and makes more people prey on you, thus exploiting your pain and your weakness for their own gain. Even the homeless can be stronger from within if they do not let themselves become prey due to victimhood. Strength, while not a complete requirement for survival, contributes greatly to it. Especially if we go on this life on our lonesome. And the interest of gaining and maintaining power in any situation is to survive, physically, mentally or both. Power is everything. It is money the same as it is a will of iron.


While social beings depend on the strengths of others, the loner and the lonely, like the homeless, must be stronger than others, as individuals, in order to endure the unforgiving nature of this human-dominated world, where self-interest over altruism is prioritized. Do not expect others to help you if there is nothing necessarily beneficial to themselves. That is how any desire/interest-based organization works, from a social group to a syndicate.


The same applies to politics and unfortunately helping the welfare of the homeless might not yield any interest to those who can invest in it. Thus, in their eyes, helping the weak and unfortunate might not be too beneficial even though that's not true (as helping the homeless can bring more productive members of society, for instance). But as long as the powerful will disregard the weaker in power, they will not see a reason to assist them without any interest on their side.


Therefore, the lack of external support requires you to be strong in spirit, and attain what many attain safely: Getting the next meal, the next drink, and the next place to sleep in. As such, alone, we must be tougher. And even if we're lonely with the company of other people, we are alone.


The interviewee said something interesting: That giving up hope helped him learn how to live. The hope to be accomplished and successful often restrains one to comply with society's social contract in order to be successful in the first place. However, when society forsakes you to live outside of it, you may feel less compelled to be a part of a collective that disregards you and leaves you to fend for yourself.


This might make you think: Why care about the very same entity that put you in its outskirts, and rejected you for your so-called "insanity"? Why play a part of a contract that, by default, forsaked you for your homelessness and eccentricity? As such, it is often society that builds its outsiders, rejects and even those who actively oppose it in the form of being lawless (as in John Duran's very example).


Do not expect people to want to comply to the norms when the norms opposed them in the first place. And degradation will only make their hostility to society, even more severe. See how individuals and societies create and nurture their own enemies.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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