“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world” – Joel Barker
We long to be accomplishers. Constantly looking forward to the next chapter, we dream of our futures looking ahead to the following stage. We stand in awe of those who have left behind a legacy of good, longing too for our lives to hold meaning, and purpose.
What’s your vision?
When you look at your hopes, your dreams, and your blueprints for the future, what do you want to accomplish? What legacy do you want to leave behind?
We are a generation of visionaries. Our western cities boom with university graduates, young entrepreneurs, and people boldly pursuing their dreams. But these visions will never go anywhere if we never take action.
One week after our first visit with Dennis, we went back to see him. One visit wasn’t enough. Once a story like Dennis’ gets under your skin it’s hard to shake off. But I didn’t want to shake it off. A relationship had been established, and as a result, I was eager to know how he was getting on.
But this time, the conversation was very different. Dennis had some news, and we were ecstatic to hear it:
“I got a job as a dishwasher in a local diner this week! They told me I did a really good job and that they would have me back”
To hear that in the space of a week that Dennis had embraced a new opportunity to seize freedom from the streets gave us so much joy. His face beamed as he spoke of the hope he had for the weeks to come. His vision for a better life was finally becoming a reality.
Nevertheless, the road to freedom is never exempt from rocky patches and setbacks. Amongst the celebration of this new opportunity, Dennis also revealed that earlier that week he had a series of relationship breakdowns:
“One of the guys I used to work for accused me of robbing his house. I was once really good friends with him and his wife – I even used to baby sit for them! But now he’s accused me of doing something I haven’t done. I would never do that to him. I’m so angry!”
Not only had he lost two friends to something he had no responsibility for, but he also lost faith in himself. The negative preconceptions that so often come attached to homelessness make Dennis an easy target for blame, but his lack of postcode does not define who he is.
Once again, I wanted Dennis to know that. As we encouraged him with words of hope, and rejoiced at the progress he had made despite the obstacles along the way, I wanted to know what it was that gave him the determination to keep going:
“I know what it’s like to have a better life than this. I was an addict before, and I never want to live that life again. Getting clean was hard, but I know that someday I’ll look back and see that it was worth it”
It is this hope that change can come to broken lives with the right vision and action that keeps Dennis alive. In order for Dennis to keep moving forward, he needs people to believe in his dreams and his vision for a better life.
This is why the establishment of relationships is vital in the abolishment of homelessness across our globe. One positive conversation can change someone’s day, but the establishment of ongoing relationships, where truth and hope are spoken regularly into lives who are on the brink of giving up, can transform a future.
Not only for them, but for you too. In the words of Winston Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”
There is something incredibly satisfying in witnessing the reaction of someone who has received a gift. The smile you receive in return is worth far more than any amount of money or material possession.
In order to move forward as a society, we must be willing to go beyond providing for ourselves and bring those suffering out from the shadows of neglect. If we have resources, we must give to those who don’t. If we have a voice, we must speak for the voiceless. If we have a vision for a better city, we must impart it to those who have lost sight of that hope.
Dennis has a vision. A vision of a future free from addiction. A vision for a home and a family. A vision of a new identity, free from negative labels.
But not only that, Dennis is fighting for his vision. With every obstacle he faces, he pushes forward to freedom. Days living on the streets may feel like years, but slowly and surely, progress is being made as people are starting to believe that their vision for a better life can become a reality.
Our vision is to create a movement of people who will go to all costs to see an end to the negative perceptions that surround homelessness, and see hope restored to those who desperately need to know their lives matter.