Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Call for Submissions: What is in a Name?

I have gotten some e-mails from readers recently that have contained personal anecdotes about homeless experiences and/or accounts of their own lives on the streets. Some of them are pretty interesting in their perspective and detail; so I decided to extend an opportunity to anyone who reads this blog.

If you have a story about homelessness that you would like to contribute to the site, please send me an e-mail.

NOTH's new e-mail address is: namesofthehomeless@gmail.com .

I am looking for anything that honestly describes people's condition, that movingly tells their life-stories, and that includes the name of the individual. Names are essential because they bring the homeless into the realm of humanity. It is easier to love someone when you know their name, it is harder to fear or hate them. Knowing and remembering someone's name shows them that you think they matter as an individual; and that they're not subhuman or a meaningless statistic. What would you think if I told you that President Obama knew me, and called me by my name? That would mean that to the Commander and Chief, I stand out as a unique, knowable entity, and
not just another face in a crowd of 300million citizens. I am worthy of special attention, worthy enough for him to memorize the most elemental feature of my person: my name.

Think about how different Reagan's speech would have sounded if he had said: "Whoever-you-are-Soviet-leader, you ought to tear down this wall." Names are powerful. Think about the first time you heard the name of your beloved. Remember how it tingled in your ear and intoxicated your insides? Now you could call to the person who had been distracting your mind all day, and they would turn and acknowledge you too. (Amazing!) Think about Mary, next to the tomb, trying to find the body of her Lord. It was not until Jesus sweetly whispered her name that she recognized him.

If you are interested in talking to a homeless person, but are intimidated by the idea or are unsure how to start, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I can send you some suggestions.

Thanks for everyone who has given me honest feedback on this project thus far. I appreciate your comments.

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