Man In The Mirror

I often take pictures of the homeless people in our city and do what I can to address a world wide crises. I wrote a narrative paired with a photo of a homeless man, a first in the series. I noticed that sometimes my narrative is cut off so I want to also put my views in the writing section, especially when I feel the issue is of critical importance.
This is a series of people I photographed in Los Angeles where many of the most affluent people live in the world “pretending not to see.” I don’t look away and see a stark contrast of homeless people on the streets, some starving, struggling to deal with the intermittent cold and rainy climate, especially in the winter in New York. Most importantly I see people in failing health, both psychologically and physically. In Los Angeles and New York, the two most populated cities in the United States, people are dying on the streets living in cardboard structures and feeding themselves by begging and or scanning the city’s garbage. The counterpoint of the very rich and those that live on the streets struggling for their survival is alarming. I had a close up view of this tragic situation when I worked at the Veterans Administration during the Vietnam War treating war veterans who had been released from surface due to what we use to refer to as “shell shock” and now label post traumatic stress disorder. No matter what we label the phenomenon, the situation in our cities has grown out of control with many indifferent people who step over sleeping and very sick people. It is like these homeless and hopeless people are invisible and have become a part of the urban landscape. When Governor Reagan changed the law for mandatory care for veterans in the 70’s, he did not consider the tragic ramifications that these often abused people were not provided with housing and food and many could not care for themselves and rarely had family who cared to take an interest in their homeless parents. Ambulatory psychotics flooded the streets without the intellectual or mental resources to survive in a hostile and uncaring environment. Unless a hopeless person is obviously begging for money for drugs or alcohol, I don’t turn away and often contribute food or money to those who are seriously afflicted. They were safe with comfortable housing, food and medical treatment before Reagan passed a law in California to create a social and medical crisis in our city without any plan to help rehabilitate the very sick men and women who had served our country and others and not faced the travesty that they had noone to service or care about their basic needs or survival. I often engage the homeless population in conversation and observe the wide range of differing attitudes of these forgotten people. When I first heard, Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror”, I remember tears filled my eyes responding to the blatant truth of his lyrics. There is little I could do considering the massive problem that exists in every city in the world. This problem needs to be addressed on a global scale to protect these confused and mentally disturbed people. I replayed this song many times to reinforce my efforts to not look away in my self-absorbed world and try to do what I can to help many gracious and kind people who live by their wits on the streets of Los Angeles. The man in this photo is frequently in Beverly Hills and had 35 cents in his cup after a full day. When I express my concern and donate much more than they make in a day, they are very grateful and gracious in their response to my concern about their plight. Although we do have some shelters, there are not enough funds to help these people unless we “look in the mirror.”

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Ooh!)
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change His
Ways
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could’ve
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .)
Change!

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh
Yeah!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make The Change)
(You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time)
(‘Cause When You Close Your
Heart)
You Can’t Close Your . . .Your
Mind!
(Then You Close Your . . .
Mind!)
That Man, That Man, That
Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
(Man In The Mirror, Oh Yeah!)
That Man, That Man, That Man
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I’m Gonna Make A Change
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
(Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You’ve Got To Stop It.
Yourself!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I’ve Got To Make That Change,
Today!
Hoo!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
Hoo!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I’ve Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
(Man In The Mirror)
You’ve Got To
You’ve Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Aaow!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
(Change . . .)
Make That Change.

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Comments

  • Faith Puleston
    Faith Pulestonover 6 years ago

    For me the terrible part is that the affluent DO see, but look away. The gap between rich and poor is widening. There have been revolutions about it through the ages, but again and again the poor (and thus powerless) have been pushed back. Here in Germany there is homelessness and hopelessness which I consider shameful in a country boasting about its international flair etc. You see men and women (often with babies in their arms – drugged to keep them quiet) hanging around parks and in streets. Beggars can be seen in every shopping centre – not just immigrants, but also Germans fallen on bad times. You might think it unlikely in a country where everything is regulated. But in recent years, the powers that be have re-regulated poverty, too, pushing people into it who might not have been there under other conditions. Sure, there are organized rings of beggars. Now and again one hears about them, but most of these people are down-and-outs and know no other way of surviving.
    Undeniably, young people growing up today in a society of haves and have-nots have a hard time unless they are getting (and appreciating) a decent education and are able to develop enough ambition to put themselves onto some kind of success ladder, if only a modest one.
    It’s easy to say (and the affluent like to say it) that it’s a matter of choice. But some people have no choice. The negative influences in their lives outweigh the positive ones. Its the incurable cancer of society.

  • Julie Marks
    Julie Marksover 6 years ago

    Very powerful and passionate words Faith. I love it that you are not one of the many that hide their head in the sand not wanting to look at the helpless souls that fill our streets while the wealthy buy chateaus in Paris while pretending to help the poor. It is the cancer of society, a malignancy of the soul that I hope is not incurable. Sleeping minds will need to wake up to save their own lives.

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