As I rode the train across the Mojave Desert last week I talked to a couple from Chicago. They worked with an organization that helped provide affordable housing. They said it sometimes seemed like a never-ending battle to keep a roof over people’s heads, “but doing something is better than doing nothing.”
There is nothing worse than giving up. While in San Bernardino I stayed with a woman who was born and raised there. She said her education was dismal, her school filled with violence, and both teachers and students had given up hope. The city recently declared bankruptcy, and as I walked through San Bernardino evidence of those struggling was apparent everywhere.
Passing by the city probation office in the center of San Bernardino along Route 66 I met a man who was stuck in a Catch 22. After serving his time he was released, but required to wear an ankle monitor. His friends and family all lived in Compton, but the monitor didn’t allow him to him to leave San Bernardino. Left without resources, he was homeless. Even worse, he had to find a way to charge his ankle monitor twice a day. He tried to get job, but no one would hire him with the ankle monitor. He told me that friends of his kept trying to convince him to take part in robberies to make a few bucks and get off the street. “I don’t want to do that no more,” he said. “I’m tired of being in prison, tired of people shooting people over stupid things.” He bears more than a few scars from bullet wounds. Despite being homeless for the past year, and facing two more years of homelessness due to the ankle monitor, “I’m just going to sit right here,” he said.
I understood his desire to escape a life of dabbling in criminal activities, but it made me sad to think he was just going to accept his homelessness. I don’t know the solution to his problem, but I do know accepting one’s circumstances as fate is no way to accomplish change. He said he’s still trying to get a job despite the constant rejection. For his sake I hope is doesn’t give up.
Though the journey across this country may be far, and seemingly impossible to cross, I didn’t give up. So I hope that those who face hardships that appear insurmountable realize they are stronger than they may think. Anything is possible if you just keep going, just keep taking baby steps towards your goal. I’m nearly at my goal, just 75 more miles to the Pacific Ocean. So on I walk…