I keep seeing refugee-versus-veteran memes on social media at the moment. It seems like a viable bit of indignation. Surely it is ok to think that we should take care of our own before we take care of others? That doesn’t seem wrong, if you can turn a blind eye to the racism that inspires the observation.
What I don’t understand though, is this: Why are there so many homeless veterans? These are American (or Canadian) people. Where are their families? Where are their friends? I don’t understand how this can be so bad. Why are families and friends not opening their homes to these people who are sleeping on the streets? It doesn’t make sense to me. These people can surely not be all alone in the world. Not all of them. If nothing else they surely have fellow veterans in their lives.
In this situation I can’t stop thinking about possibly my all-time favourite book: How to be Good by Nick Hornby. In it, the protagonist’s husband has a sort of spiritual awakening. He encourages his neighbours to each adopt one homeless teenager as a way to help alleviate the homelessness in his home town. I loved that story so damn much. It was the height of absolute beauty to me. I’ve read that book four times already. It remains one of the most inspiring works I have ever experienced. And I’m not even sure if it was meant to be inspiring! (I’d love to ask Nick Hornby about it sometime)
Maybe, if people feel that their governments are failing them, they could consider taking things into their own hands. Take a veteran home with you. Change someone’s life. Just one. If each person bemoaning the money spent of the refugees at the supposed expense of the veterans were to step up and do something then the veteran problem might be alleviated in no time.
We can change the world without our governments. We can change just one person’s whole world. It’s too easy to point fingers from our couches about how the world should be run.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Take in a veteran.
Take in a refugee.
Be the reason that someone gets back on their feet.
Be the change.