It is estimated that there are 19,000 homeless people living in Detroit. This man in the photo, who has not been identified, was found in the elevator shaft of an abandoned warehouse. The elevator shaft had flooded and frozen and all that can be seen are his legs, his shoes and socks.
How did this man die? Did he give up and take his own life? Starve to death? Die of hypothermia? Did he die of alcoholism or drug overdose? Was he murdered? Regardless, he seems to have met his death alone. A body encased in ice, the "unknown homeless man" was someone's brother, son, and maybe a father. I wonder about his family as I look at the picture.
The homeless are vulnerable. They often don't know where they're going to sleep or eat or if they'll survive through the night. There are not enough beds in shelters and when the doors close at night and are locked, the ones left outside are forced to find a doorway, alley or even a garbage bin that will provide shelter.
The homesless are also looked at with indifference in the urban areas in which they inhabit. They become almost invisible to the people who pass them on the streets. I lived in a large city for many years and I saw this happen. People got used to them, didn't look at them, ignored them, looked right through them. Well-dressed pedestrians walked down the streets, eyes averted, not wanting to make eye contact. Was it fear? Guilt? Shame?
In the case of this homeless man in Detroit, indifference even applied to the discovery of this dead man. His body had been discovered a week prior to its recovery, but the finder did not report it. He told a friend, who later called 911. The finder, an "urban explorer" who liked to prowl through abandoned buildings and take pictures of urban decay, had not wanted to admit that he was trespassing. So he and his buddies played hockey on the ice of the flooded warehouse basement and left.
The next time you encounter a homeless person, remember this man. Don't look away. The tragedy of homeless is one thing, but indifference is another. Every human being has worth. They deserve to be acknowledged. Mother Teresa, who worked with the poor, sick and homeless in Calcutta, India did not look away or show indifference. She looked directly into the eyes of these people. She said she saw Christ in the face of each one.
In Sanskrit, the word "namasté" is said to mean "The light in me honors the light (or divine) in you." If we cannot see that light in others, how can we truly see it in ourselves? For we are all one in Spirit; we are brothers and sisters joined together in our Christhood.