Homelessness Is No Community

Writing in First Things (“Homeless,” June/July 2016), R.R. Remo talks of the homelessness felt by so many in today’s world. The obvious homeless increasingly sleep on streets or in encampments in U.S. cities. The refugees flooding into Europe are homeless, as are many who cross national borders in North America.

Homelessness is not limited to the physically homeless. People drift spiritually from communities that sheltered them in the past. Old beliefs are called into question.

Even the well off may lead rootless lives, leaving little room for lifelong friendships or family support. As couples increasingly have only one child or no children, terms like aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins pass from use. Our connections tend to be temporary.

Rootlessness affects our political situation also, Remo says. “Rejecting established leaders, voters who feel abandoned are vulnerable to manipulation.” They may flee to “strong men who promise protection.”

How fight homelessness? Solutions require some exchange of self interest and the acceptance of risk for the sake of entering into community, including communities of family, faith, neighborhood, and even addiction recovery.

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