Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gimme shelter

Now that we, the Sac'to Homeless, have that shelter-axing proposal thing hanging over us like a swinging sword of Damocles, other issues seem tamed and trivial in comparison. As Shakespeare could've said, "Uneasy lies the head that doesn't have a pillow." Yes, Bill, especially so on cold, rainy nights.

It is probably the case that the county is playing a game of chicken.

Eventually, either the county or the city or the stimulus fund will pony up and allow the homeless to survive. Maybe. Each thinks in regard to the other: It's your problem!

But the homeless have no political power! We donate so extremely little to campaign funds! Agencies that advocate for themselves – I mean "us" – are so slimy and morally compromised. But politicos, listen to them! to them!

Val Jon Farris wrote a nice piece, yesterday, called "The Anthology of Homelessness," about the path to existence devastation.

Existence devastation is at hand, y'all.

One might think that when times got tough, the government would extend its hand to the homeless as more, from the middle class, were added to its ranks. One might think that we would all pull up our boots, pull on our work gloves, and make sure that everyone is taken care of. That nobody falls in the cracks. But that is never what happens.

People fall in the cracks. Because other people forget their basic good natures when they are made busy worrying about themselves.

But what the government does, even with the wise Barrack Obama at the helm, is it contracts. And those that scream the loudest – meaning the rich, per usual – retain the greater portion of gov't largess. The homeless get pushed off the cliff, because Oprah viewers have only so much patience. And care only, really, mostly, about themselves. They care about the homeless only so far as it has liberal cache.

In his excellent blogpost, Val Jon writes,
... until we can place ourselves intimately inside the emotional experience of these remarkable people we will have no true compassion or appreciation for them. And ... until we learn how to engage with the homeless population from a place of profound respect and dignity, a place in which we work with them on solutions rather than dictating to them what we think they need, our efforts will be ineffective.

To successfully explore the Anthology of Homelessness I ask that you set aside whatever reasoning you may have about why people become homeless and simply accept the fact that it happens.
After that, Val Jon shows the path – but I'm not sure that just asking people, as he has, to, flatly, without justification-finding or blame-seeking, accept that homeless people are in a circumstance of misery, is enough.

Maybe, if we sit quietly, we can bring to the fore our natural empathetic instincts, the most formitable level of which is empathetic concern, full-throttle compassion. Or, in contemporary Buddhist terms, Great Karuna.

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