Christian Long

Becky Blanton: The Year I Was Homeless

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Reflection by PARYSE W.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Becky Blanton: The Year I Was Homeless

Becky Blanton, who was a journalist, started going through a hard time. Her father had passed away, and she decided to become homeless.

I guess it could be understandable but it is not something I would do. Why?

Because I would not quit my job and give up everything to live in a van. I do agree with a point she made that says if you live in a house you have more value, it is true because you actually work to succeed in having a home, food, and anything else you want. Also she says how “homeless is an attitude not a lifestyle.”

I strongly agree with this because really if you have a working attitude you could get off the streets. Most of these people who are homeless would be able to find a job and could earn some money to move up in class. Most homeless like to get money from people on the streets but all they do is go buy alcohol and drugs just like Becky said “a man said you are not a normal homeless drugged up and drunk”. That comment is very common I’m sure, most of the time if these people do make money they are just going to spend it on things they do not need, when they could save up and maybe get somewhere in life.

Becky said that while she was homeless she went through all kinds of conditions, heat, freezing weather, and she even became suicidal. Living in a van would not be my definition of trying to get away from all the depression, I think maybe just a vacation. Once she found the book with one of her stories in it she realized she was not a homeless, she was a journalist. She decided to move back to her home and start working again. She could be an inspiration for homeless to read about and maybe they would decide to try to start working. They don’t need to rely on other people to give them money, they need to go get there own.

I don’t feel bad for any homeless because its there choice to not become better and succeed in life.

Use Becky as an inspiration and help inspire these people to get out there and work!

  1. Interesting take on the video! Thanks for your sharing your thoughts! As a journalist I know it’s always good to get both sides of the story. It helps clear up things and hopefully contributes clarity to the conversation.

    Well, the first thing is – I didn’t really decide to become homeless. I decided to move into my van and travel. I’ve camped my whole life and the idea initially was to travel, camp and have a good time being on the road and make money by freelancing – selling my photography. Millions of RV’ers and campers, Boy Scouts, college kids on spring break and so on camp or live in their vehicles like this every day. So that was what I planned to do. What happened is that after a month of camping my freelance job ended. I had to make money, so I got a job with a temporary agency.

    That meant I had to show up and work a 9-5 job pretty much. So, I decided to move back OUT of the van and get an apartment. However, on a minimum wage job it is impossible to afford an apartment. There is a huge problem with affordable housing in this country and I ran smack dab into it. Plus, I had a Rottweiler and a cat. VERY hard to find places in Denver to rent when you have a Rottweiler or a cat, let alone both! Rather than give up my animals I decided to stay in the van. When you commit to take care of another person or an animal for life – you do what you have to do to honor that commitment. So that meant living in the van for me.

    The other part of this story is that my father had just died. It’s a strange thing to experience the death of a family member -especially a parent. If your parent died, how would you feel? If you were sad and crying and angry could you be effective at school? Probably not. People who lose someone to cancer or disease are usually very sad and go through a hard grieving process. That happened to me. I was very sad. It hurt a lot and I spent a lot of time crying and feeling angry, sad and confused. Grief does that to people.

    Plus, people at work who had been my friends suddenly stopped being my friends when they learned I lived in my van. This would have been understandable, but since I worked for CAMPING WORLD, it seemed kind of odd since we sold stuff to people who lived in their RVs and Vans and trucks!

    Anyway, people think of homeless people as addicts and bums and drug addicts and bad people. You said that you don’t feel bad for any homeless people because “It is their choice to not become better and succeed in life.” Well, that sort of really bothers me. That is the sort of thinking that makes the world a bad place to live in. None of us is so perfect that we can judge someone else without understanding their situation. Unless you talk to them you can’t really tell what their attitude is. I met people who had medical problems and couldn’t find a job. They wanted to do better and succeed, but no one would give them a chance. Many of the people like me WERE working and becoming better, but were struggling. They had family or other things they had to work to pay for – like cancer treatments. They could live in an apartment and die – or they could live in their car and get medical help. What would you do?

    There are thousands of people who are homeless through no fault of their own and they are trying to become better and succeed in life. Some children are homeless because their parents lost their jobs because of a bad economy. Are they bad children? No, but – they’re homeless.

    Many homeless people are working on doing better – but aren’t quite there yet. If you look at a toddler, a child who is just beginning to walk and you say, “Bad baby. You aren’t running yet!!” you have failed to realize that life is a journey. We are all on a path to somewhere. To fault someone for being homeless without hearing their story is cruel. I had a good attitude, but when I was homeless no one took time to hear my story and find out what was going on. It wasn’t until after I won a journalism award and was off the street that people wanted to listen.

    There are many people in this world – including many, many famous people, who were once homeless and DID make a decision to become better and did become better. The only time someone fails is when they stop trying.

    You said:

    “I guess it could be understandable, but it is not something I would do. Why?”

    As you get older you’ll see that life is not black and white and that we cannot always control what happens TO us, but we can control our attitude. The most important thing we can learn is that it is our character, our hope, our heart, our compassion for ourselves and our compassion for others that will change the world. You can say you wouldn’t do that now, but until we are faced with a challenge, we really don’t know what we’ll do.

    Just because someone is homeless and doesn’t work, or can’t work or is an alcoholic or a drug addict or a prostitute does not make them garbage as a person. Everyone on the streets today was once someone’s baby. We all, no matter how bad off we are, what bad decisions we have made, or what we have become, wants to belong, wants to be loved, wants to be part of something that matters and wants to be respected and acknowledged. If you learn that early – life will be better as you get older. If you don’t learn it – then life teaches it to you.

    I’m glad to see you doing this blog and I am glad you liked the video enough to comment. If I can leave you with one thing – it’s that it’s true – Hope DOES always find a way….

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