Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A Different Political Approach to Ending Homelessness

I think the Internet has affected my communication style, and I am very glad I started to notice it. It seems so hyper-political out there, and the context lends itself to competition, because everybody wants to "show" the "other side." It especially feels that way during an election, and my tendency is follow suit, blasting people and trying to put them in their place. While this can give me a thrill as the blood rushes to my ever-expanding head, at the end of the day, homelessness will only be solved when ending it becomes a way of life for all Canadians, of all political leanings.

I haven't been as brutal online as some are, but I could definitely reach out more to the least-informed folks about the homeless experience, educating them rather than scolding. There is a very big difference between being cold-hearted and being uninformed, and most of those who call the homeless "lazy" or say "they choose that lifestyle" are the latter. The cure for ignorance is teaching, sharing, and educating, so why does it seem that we lean toward punishment, blaming, and shaming in the political realm?

In psychology, I learned that punishment is a very ineffective way to influence behaviour, very short-lived and thin. It is much better to positively reinforce, to point out what the person has done right, while informing them of their options.  As a case planner, that is what I did for people-- I helped them become aware of other options available, while getting behind their successes.  I also connected them to others who were knowledgeable in certain areas.  I need to treat all people with the same courtesy, to be a full human, so I intend to change what I do a little.

I want to find those who I think are strongly affecting the stigma against the homeless, and I want to sit down with them.  I want to understand where they are coming from, and make sure they feel heard.  I want to find the things in them that make them shine, and I want to win their support for ending homelessness by showing them the numbers, and the stories.

Now, if only I could find a few people like that...

No comments: