In America, who is really free?

Megan Crothers

Homelessness is typically looked upon with an upturned nose, and quick scoff at the panhandler gnawing on your ankles. We think of ourselves as better off, with our taxed paychecks and utility bills. We run like rodents on wheels through the workweek, constantly repeating ourselves in a strict 9-5 box of regularity. We’ve got freedom, yes we do, we’ve got freedom, how ‘bout you? (But only on the weekends).

We work like mad in order to pay for our homes, pay for our phones, pay for our cars and clothes and all other sources of material happiness that only gives a synthetic feeling of bliss that leaves you coming down harder than before. We rely on what we can purchase, because if it can’t be bought, it must not have worth. We can’t possibly be wrong. This is the way we live.

There is a small fraction on society that rebels against the artificial life, whether they choose to or not. These people are the homeless, and exist everywhere. Some of them successfully hide their living situation from society for years, and other wander the streets with ratted hair and unkempt clothing, muttering strange incantations under their breath in a real or falsified fit of insanity. They have a keenly developed sense of survival, and are thought of by some to be more human than the rest of us. If you truly ponder your humanity, what does it mean to you? Are you human because of your predictable 40-hour workweek, your cellular device payments, and your post-modern apartment decorations that you bought at Ikea? Or maybe you’re human because you are a cool indie hipster kid and you spend your money on dusty vinyl records (that you’ll never admit you bought from the pre-selected collection of “cool music” at Urban Outfitters) because you are trying way too hard to be a non-conformist. Does being human mean working your rear end off for a degree that will earn you social standing, but not necessarily a secure job that you would become a slave to anyways?

It seems that our perception is skewed, and in the long run, we are screwed. We are getting cheated from what it really is to be alive and experience the world outside of a fluorescent-lighted cubicle. Perhaps the homeless are shedding real, natural light on the benefits of their lifestyles. 

People who have been homeless often have beneficial things to say about their experiences. Not to demean the actual hardship, being homeless is quite difficult.
These are two extremes, and the majority of us run blindly through life engrossed in one of those extremes.

It is possible break free of what it means to want, in relation to what it means to need.

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