They are the forgotten of the world.
They are the ones who live in old smelly homes with twenty others, four people squeezed into each room. Everyone smokes cigarettes.
They watch TV all day.
They are Schizophrenic. And they are beautiful.
Having been afflicted with this devastating illness, usually starting in their early 20s, these delicate souls have become the outcasts of our world. They hear voices, sometimes with haunting themes; they are convinced that a strange someone is coming after them; they neglect their hygiene; they don’t pick up on normal social graces; they are not able to multitask; their families often have little interaction with them.
We see them often, sitting on the sidewalk, asking for a quarter, and most of us pass them by.
As a rookie psychiatrist in training, I was assigned to one of these schizophrenic homes - and, admittedly, not knowing much at that time about the condition, I was quite freaked out.
But as I got to know them more and more, I found myself absolutely delighted. Yes, they invaded my personal space. And yes, they would ask me intrusive and inappropriate questions. And yes, they gave off quite an unpleasant odor.
But through their innocence, they were precious. They had such a childlike joy about them. There was a pure goodness. Their brains were without filter: a raw brain, with eyes wide open and hungry for spirituality. All these lonely people, so unaware on the one hand, yet living with shining souls.
(Now, please know that not all Schizophrenics are shining light. There are those, tragically, who have done horrendous things in society and who need to be forever in a state mental hospital. But fortunately, they are few and far between.)
So…as you’re walking down the block or heading to a big sports event, you may well see the homeless, the disheveled.
Try saying hello. Maybe bring them some food or hand them a quarter or dollars. Know that they have a soul, that they have their unique reason for being here in this world - and know that perhaps it is for YOUR benefit to do a kindness to them.
Don’t forget them, the forgotten of the world.