I just came back from trip to Los Angeles. Of course, there were plenty of fun adventures, like going to Universal Studios, and eating way too many tacos. However, I also came back with some memories that made me feel uneasy and contemplative. We decided to do a taco tour that included a trip to a location in downtown Los Angeles. If you are familiar with their downtown area, you will be aware that many homeless people reside there.

At one point, we had to drive pass a street which had quite a few homeless people living on it. As we passed by, my Los Angeles relatives talked about how scared they were driving on that street. This struck me as quite weird as I was not as scared as they were. Afterwards, I asked them why they were so scared. They recounted stories they had heard about homeless people that had pushed people into the street or injured someone. I was pretty speechless during this whole conversation. The only words I could muster were that “no one chooses to be on the street, I don’t think.”

When I was hospitalized, I slept next to mental illness patients from all walks of life. Having gotten to know them, I can tell you they are not all dangerous. Instead, I found most of the far from that. Obviously, I don’t suggest you put yourself in any sort of danger. I am just saying that we should be more compassionate and less stereotypical of those who are homeless. If you ever walk or drive past homeless people, instead of thinking they are all dangerous, try to envision them as individuals, as one of us. Each person has their own story and we have no idea what lead to their life on the streets.

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