The Honolulu Homeless

I realize that there are homeless people everywhere. I saw them every day when I went for walks by Waikiki Beach. They sleep in tents or on park benches or wherever they can find a spot. They carry with them all their belongings; most are on foot. The luckier ones have ancient bikes or shopping carts.

Right beside the hotel where I stayed, there was an old beige VW bus stuffed to the gills with one old man’s belongings. Now and then I saw him get in or out of his home; I wondered what his story was.

From what I saw, there were two types of homeless folk: those who mind their own business and don’t bother anyone or ask for anything. The other type is a little scary; they read Bible verses loudly as if to punish people around them, and then there are those who feel perfectly fine in shouting homophobic slurs and what should be done to “those people.” I have no idea what their agenda is; perhaps it is just a way to be heard.

I get it; if you are homeless, Hawaii is a warm place to be. There are also many young people who live on the beaches; the locals call them “the beach kids.” Again, not knowing their stories, you wonder how they ended up there.

Every day I saw the homeless, I felt awful for not giving them anything. I wanted to help but didn’t know how. I felt sick and sad that so many are in need. In my mind I thought, ‘you could give them everything you have and it wouldn’t make one drop of difference.’ There I was, in a place I’d always wanted to see, and, through no grace of my own, was able to go there and enjoy myself. How did I end up with so much and they with so little?

Honolulu, like many other cities, has had a homeless problem for a long time. You have to wonder how these folks got to where they are now; what happened to them that they now are living on the street?

I wish I had an answer.




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