Have you seen the latest "feel-good" viral video yet of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the "golden radio voice"? He was discovered on the street and has now been offered a job and a house by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Praise Jesus!
The world is amazed! A homeless guy has a great voice -- which, for some reason, makes him "talented." (Sorry, this makes him no more talented than being gorgeous makes Gisele "talented.") For some reason, it also makes this recovering addict (drugs and alcohol landed him on the streets years ago) a "worthy" human being. We all shake our heads, bewildered, wondering, How could a guy with this much talent have been homeless?
Sorry to burst into your violin music hazed fantasy world, but ...
All homeless people are worthy human beings. Ted Williams was a worthy human being -- even without that golden radio voice. Even before you heard of him. Why does everyone suddenly care about him? Before this video and his new gig, he was just another homeless drug addict you'd cross the street to avoid. The kind of guy you'd avoid eye contact with lest you catch some kind of horrible disease. The kind of homeless "loser" you'd complain about because his lazy drug-addled ass was dirtying your streets, or somehow eating up your hard-earned tax money. (Except of course on that one Thanksgiving when you volunteered at the local shelter. You'd look at him then -- and maybe even smile as you served up his dinner wearing latex gloves just in case! -- and give yourself a BIG pat on the back afterward.)
Another shock: Many homeless people have talent and skills and smarts and education -- and even feelings. And I'd venture to guess that a lot of them actually have a "talent" (or two or three) that wasn't simply something bestowed on them at birth, but which they worked really hard to cultivate. Homeless people aren't all alcoholics or drug addicts -- or even insane. They are simply people without money.
So I ask you, why do the video and story of this particular homeless man make you feel so good? Why does it shock and amaze you? The fact that the world is going wild over this video says more about our misguided perceptions of -- and prejudices about -- homeless people than it does anything else.
Am I glad that Ted Williams has the proverbial "second chance"? Of course. But what makes this guy so special? Don't all homeless people deserve some help? Why aren't the Cleveland Cavaliers giving that widow mom/artist who is living out of her car with her three kids a job designing logos for the team?
And what about you? What will you do this year to help the homeless? Sharing this video just isn't enough.