On Tuesday night, I was treated to an early viewing of the Soloist at Paramount Studios, thanks to Nedra Weinreich. This important movie discuses the journey of homeless Juliard drop-out Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Fox) and his friend, chronicler LA Times journalist Steve Lopez. The tragic movie highlights Ayers mental illness and the battle he faces living everyday, while also gracing the streets with his haunting music.
Homelessness continues to be terrible issue in a society where healthcare is in a sorry state and a brutal economy with unemployment surging toward 10%. This will continue to be a growing issue for our communities, and that is why you need to see the Soloist. Because the next Ayers or Sykes may be our neighbor.
Perhaps the greatest lesson in this movie was how hard it is to help homeless people. It’s not as easy as giving them meds, an apartment, or another opportunity, or a religious solution. In fact, there can be really no solution unless the person in question wants help.
Letting go and allowing these people to live without forcing a decision on them is unbelievable hard, as Lopez found out. Even harder is giving them the dignity to be people, and to accept them simply as they are.
LA has a horrific homeless problem, with more than 90,000 homeless people. During my trip her this week, I took a photo walk (both photos are from said walk) and met a homeless man, Winston Sykes (pictured above). Sykes is a genuinely nice guy. He was very lucid and told me about his trials, how he felt he was lucky to be alive and that in his many years on the street he had not been attacked or seriously harmed. Sykes felt blessed and discussed how dangerous it was. Yet, though his plight was terrible, Sykes seemed to be a genuinely happy fellow.
If you feel compelled to participate, TakePart helped make the movie and is running a Take Action Now campaign. You can also follow TakePart blogger Sarah Newman on Twitter. Additionally, Steve Lopez discusses his journey with Nathaniel Ayers here.