Winter is upon us here down under, which has furthered my inability to rise early in the morning, dreading the icy rush in the atmosphere the moment I lift myself up and out of my warm woollen sheets.
Yet in this simple daily discomfort, I recognise the blessings – that I have a cosy place to sleep, roof and walls to protect me, the choice itself to stay in and access warmth and safety.
This isn’t everyone’s reality and with the rates of homelessness on the incline, I cannot imagine what this Winter will mean for those without permanent or even temporary shelter. It is heartbreaking to think that this is a growing problem in Australia, a country so developed, privileged and well-resourced.
It is heartbreaking each time I walk through Melbourne’s city streets, to see women, men and young people camping on corners, looking through trash bins for food, begging for money from passers by.
It is heartbreaking to fathom that those I see are only a fraction of a staggering nationwide statistic for people displaced and homeless.
Whilst the solutions seem easy, I do understand that the problem of homelessness itself is a complex one, compounded by the numerous issues affecting our community – domestic violence, drug abuse, unemployment and mental illness.
As we watch on and criticise our government for misguided priorities, judgements and inaction, we overlook the fact that nobody has all the answers and nobody is responsible for everything.
Yet, we all bear the responsibility of creating some kind of positive change and we all have an answer to something.
I think about this often – what is it that I can do with what I have, that will make a meaningful contribution? Which solution can I be a part of?
If homelessness is the outcome of many different issues in our society, then perhaps each of us is called towards helping rectify at least one of those issues – whether it’s in prevention or cure.
We cannot simply expect or will others to change laws or fix things – we must recognise that we are a part of the solution as workers, creators, citizens, families, humans of the world.
My starting place is gratitude, honouring the gifts I have been given and the privilege of choice.
From there the work begins in building up one’s self, so that your cup is full enough for you to be able to give in the way that you can and you must.
I believe that each of us has a calling to serve others in need, to be light and warmth to those lost and forgotten in the cold Winter’s night.