We shouldn’t push the homeless away

We are a very rich country — and we should be doing more to help solve this problem, both individually and as a community.

As we hustle through the misery of winter, barreling from our heated cars to our heated houses, perhaps pausing with some pain to endure fetching the mail, I detect a useful survival tool: shove aside thoughts of those that live in that environment with less protection than a Neanderthal’s cave. Since a good number of us are proclaimed Christians, it’s remarkable how unwelcome the downtrodden are in our presence, but especially if they were to brave the stares and sit next to us on Sunday morning.

What I notice as a constant in America, liberal or conservative, is the ever present fear and revulsion of common folk for these unfortunates, that their deaths — justified or no — cause no public outcries, but unabashed relief. You doubt this? We visited Portland last week and read that the city is considering banning businesses from putting out speakers that produce ear-piercing shrieks to drive them away, as if they were a flock of nuisance starlings.

Hate corrodes the vessel, so I resist hating my neighbors for hating those that certainly do not want to sleep on cardboard huddled next to a heater outlet duct. Oh, what fine things we have done for them: cutting off the outlet outside the library and trimming foliage so they have even less protection. Did our leaders consider random sprinklers? Where does this nation rank among the world’s wealthy nations? (No. 1, more than China and Japan combined, according to Visual Capitalist.)

The shame here is not on the people who are suffering, but the hypocrites that turn away, those pushing the proverbial camel through the eye of the needle. We were born alone and die alone; it’s a universal requirement of life in this dimension. But that coldness in our hearts is something that will last a lot longer than this transient sip of sorrow.

I propose that we all take a long hard look in the mirror, and then make a real effort to work the problem, rather than coddle fear, rational or not.

Joe Flarity


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