Enabling and the Homeless-Part One

enabling burien homelessEnabling and the Homeless Part One
Anyone living in Burien will sooner or later hear complaints about Burien enabling the homeless and addicts. Some will voice complaints about organizations that provide food/clothing/medical & dental services, stating that these services help enable the homeless and addict. The argument is that the homeless and addicts should be held accountable and when they get free services it is ‘enabling them’. The word enabling in this contest is seen as enabling or encouraging someone to continue unhealthy behavior with no consequences. The question we should ask is: “Is providing basic needs to the homeless and those who have addictions enabling unhealthy behavior? Is it damaging to the person or society?Many times the word enabling is used by those who group all homeless people together as overall being criminals, addicts, lazy unwanted evil people. “Who wants to enable those people?” No matter what services are provided it is called enabling. They should “pay the price for their poor choices”. The problem is many of the homeless are not lazy criminal addicts. Some are the working poor. Some are not involved in any criminal activity at all. Some are victims of domestic abuse. Some are the elderly with little income. Some are the mentally ill stuck in a vicious cycle. Should these individuals not receive services such as food and clothing and help with their medical needs? Enabling in the sense of empowering someone to improve their life is certainly not a bad form of enabling. Helping someone do what they cannot do themselves is certainly not wrong. (We are going to talk about this in part two.)

When Enabling is Wrong
There is a type of enabling that is wrong. When a person condones or approves inappropriate behavior it is enabling. When a person continuously believes that somehow it is their responsibility or fault if someone does not get help, it can become co-dependency, which is very healthy to the person getting help and the person giving help. When helping someone to continue in their inappropriate behavior with no consequences, it is wrong and not good for the person or society.  Helping someone to the point that it only helps them to continue to do wrong behavior is certainly wrong.

Giving money to an alcoholic/addict can be the wrong kind of enabling. Much better to give food or clothing than money. Allowing or even enabling a person to break the law should obviously be seen as wrong. Making it so a person finds it much easier to continue in unhealthy behavior rather than change can be wrong. (At times there is a fine line between enabling and empowering.)

There must be consequences for inappropriate behavior. If not it is enabling, not empowering.If no consequences the inappropriate behavior will continue. The danger is those who see homelessness as inappropriate behavior. Those who see homelessness as a crime. Those who see all homeless as being the same. They become part of the problem, not the solution. However, there are also those who are enablers in an unhealthy manner.

Enabling Groups
Liberals/Progressives
There are some groups that can be known as groups that enable in an unhealthy way. Many times those who lean politically to the left, those who identify as liberals or progressives, can be enablers. They at times overemphasize the responsibility of government and remove responsibility from those who make bad choices. Some actually encourage illegal behavior. Some make those who have made bad choices as victims. They tend to overemphasize that society is the problem, not a person’s actions. Many times they come across that every one is a victim. Sadly when these groups, because of their enabling type of mindset. get involved in social service programs, they cause others to not want to support such programs. Why? Because of their very nature of not holding individuals accountable for their actions.

Also there are those who are liberal/progressive that have such a disdain for those of faith that they become hypocritical because they claim to want to help the homeless and those in need, but adamantly against any faith-based organizations being involved in social services.

Churches/Non-profit Organizations
At times churches and non-profits organizations at times can lean towards enabling in an unhealthy manner. The concept of God loves everyone can go to ‘It does not matter what a person has done or is doing.’ It can lead to winking at behavior that is very unhealthy to the person and society. It can lead to not empowering a person but enabling them to continue in their behavior. Sadly there are those in these groups that are co-dependent. Co-dependents are known to be enablers. These groups can tend to see others as not carrying when they hold people accountable for their actions.

It should be noted that liberals/progressives/churches/non-profits can also be very empowering. It should be noted that others than can be very empowering. There are also groups that can be very hateful and not see the benefits/value of helping those in need. There are those who fail to see how providing social services to the homeless can bring positive change. We will address this in Enabling and the Homeless Part Two.

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