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Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "C├ęcile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

A homeless man who died on a park bench.
It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessness isn't a race or an occupation. It is a temporary status (At least, we hope it will be in the future.) It's like being in a waiting room. And there is this curious thing: We don't extravagantly honor, for example, people who died while they were Boy Scouts. And, we don't come together to honor the tens of thousands who died in car accidents. We don't have a day of mourning for all people who died of lung cancer; nor is there a quiet period each year to mourn the few who were felled by asteroids.

Most people who ARE homeless don't think that being homeless is the whole of understanding their life. Homelessness is, instead, the time that is an aberration from being the person whom one knows oneself to be. Homelessness is often a long period of role playing. This is so because people, when they are homeless, have needs and to get what they need they have to be obedient like kindergartners because most charity leaders and functionaries have taken on the role they most treasure to have: Being despotic overlords, or in other cases, Nurse Ratched clones.

It is only charity directors, like Libby Fernandez and Bob Erlenbusch, who are likely to be at the forefront, pushing for Homeless Now, Homeless Tomorrow, Homeless Forever! Afterall, homelessness is their source of revenue. If homeless people ever all get housing in Sacramento, Fernandez and Erlenbusch would each be out of job! By gum, they'd be homeless!

I do think that it is very much to the good to have an event at Trinity Cathedral every year, on a day proximate to winter solstace [which will be Wednesday, Dec. 16, this year], honoring those homeless people who died in the past year. It allows living homeless people (and other living beings, too, of course) to think about the people who have died. To mourn for them. To miss them. And to experience a swirl of emotions in remembrance.

I don't think a $200,000 wall that Libby hopes to construct, that will list names of the deceased, makes any sense. People come to be homeless for just a spell of time. In the near future, we can hope that homeless people will be placed in housing within 12 months -- whatever -- after their fall into the stink of homelessness. If this is what will happen, being homeless would be like having been in the army, or like having had a miserable job that you quit. Being homeless will be like a pool of shit you stepped into and quickly got out of. "Homeless" won't be how other people will identify you at that point. Homelessness, though no longer called that, will just be this terrible rash that you had for a while that cleared up, and now you're fine.


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