Our collective heart has hardened towards people struggling with poverty and homelessness
Is it so hard to imagine? A string of tough luck and you lose your job, your house, your support… and you’re living on the street. You don’t have a car, let alone any money or food. All you have is your life and the clothes on your back. How would you cope?
My father-in-law, Bill Kolb, helped people down on their luck for many years here in Santa Clara, CA. He worked with St. Vincent DePaul (the charitable organization), volunteering his time by helping to feed the hungry and homeless at shelters in the area. He also often opened his home to folks that had nothing and lived on the street, allowing them to take a shower and serving them a square meal.
Bill lived a life adhering to traditional Christian values. He did more than just talk about it– he practiced it. He left an honorable legacy when he passed away nine years ago. So he would be encouraged by the current efforts in Sacramento to bring housing to elder homeless individuals.
It is hard to imagine ending up on the street. In fact, many who do can’t exactly recount how it happened to them. Such is the case for Anthony Yuknevich, 92, featured in an article in the Sacramento Bee recently. Can you imagine being in your nineties and on the street, fighting to survive?
The new facility opening up in Sacramento looks to combat a growing problem in our society. It seems that we’ve gotten more cynical in the last several decades, turning people out on their own, away from assistance. It may have been the dawn of a movement when Ronald Reagan, while he was governor of California, closed the state sponsored mental health facilities and put many people on the streets to fend for themselves.
That was in the 1970’s and since then, it seems that our collective heart has hardened towards helping people struggling with poverty and homelessness. It’s as if we’ve grown used to ignoring them. We turn our gaze away when we pass them on the streets or when they ask for our spare change. Many think they are dangerous and should be jailed or removed from the areas that they frequent.
This is what is at the heart of the Occupy Movement. These individuals are living, breathing human beings and have just as much right to life as any unborn fetus. But politicians aren’t trying to court the vote of homeless people. Why is that?
For one, they don’t vote, because they don’t have a residence that they can be associated with and registered to. But then, neither do fetuses… Well, extrapolating, fetuses do have a residential uterus; but no vote or mailing address.
Occupy says that the town square is community property, that we all together own it and can partake in it. That is the idea – that we all invest in our society, and this affords us all equal protection under the law, and equal representation in our shared environment.
We’re not asking for cigars and caviar for these people. We’re asking for basic needs to be met. A square meal, a roof over their heads, and somewhere to safely lay their head so they can rest when they need to. Is that really so horrible?