“I could do that with two hands tied behind my back,” I heard someone say the other day.
It’s a statement usually suggesting whatever the “that” is, it’s nearly not as hard as it seems.
There’s another statement I’m sure you’ve heard before: “Why don’t they just get a job?”
The “they” usually refers to the homeless, and I would assume the people who ask that question have a job of their own.
They’re probably also confident if they lost their job because of downsizing or an economic downturn, they would be able to just get another one.
They’re likely right, but let’s envision tying their hands behind their back and see how they would do.
Let’s start with a learning disability never diagnosed throughout school, preventing them from graduating.
This learning disability makes it hard for the person to learn from instruction, or processing new information at the same pace as everyone else, causing them to be left behind.
They really don’t understand what’s going on, so they quickly give up trying go grasp even the basics because the rest of the class is way ahead already.
That’s one hand tied behind their back.
The learning disability would require the person to get a job where they could have a lot of time to learn with hands-on experience. The job couldn’t change much because the person would not adapt to the changes quick enough.
So, let’s stop for a moment before we tie another hand.
What do you think has happened to this person’s self-esteem and confidence all through their life? It’s hard to imagine they exude confidence and tackle difficulties with zeal.
Hidden disabilities often leave people afraid to interact or put themselves in a position where their disability may be evident.
Maybe we could tie another hand with a mental illness or fetal alcohol syndrome, but that would be too easy.
Instead, let’s tie the other hand with a life in foster care.
Every couple of years, the person is moved to another foster home, which would explain why the learning disability was never diagnosed.
By the time they are 10, they have stopped believing they can be loved. They have stopped believing in themselves, too.
They make up their mind they will never let anyone get close to them, because in a couple of years they will just be moved to another home again.
The poor grades in school? Teachers and social workers blame the lack of stability and the person’s attitude.
By the time they turn 15, the person is so far behind nobody has any idea how to deal with them or what to do. Their friends don’t know what to do either.
At 18, the person is sent to fulfil their dreams in a big world. But by this time, they’ve made up their mind that dreams are for someone else.
We’re always told to not judge a book by its cover.
Perhaps we need to be told judging a 20-year-old homeless person is just as difficult.
— Floyd Perras is executive director of Siloam Mission.