A shelter drops 25 beds for those who are among the most needy. Did the need end? Did we decide that sleeping out in the open is just? If so, will we no longer ticket the homeless? Or have we embraced the poor and insisted on solutions from the powers that be?
Have we insured that war veterans no longer suffer from PTSD and homelessness? Or did we decide to truly support our troops by giving up war as a national pastime? Have we brought a functioning mental health system to those cruelly inflicted with mental illness? Did those crippled with physical disabilities and poverty miraculously recover?
A safe haven, known as a drop-in-center for the weary and weak, lost. Homeless women, victims of violence, are no longer welcome. Violent men have turned into sheep? Has the bull’s-eye on these women’s backs sharpened in focus now? Is Gloria’s death the glorious future that more and more homeless women will now face?
My question is: Has the need for assistance ended, or have we simply turned a blind eye to the suffering of the poor and homeless?
Homeless man and woman crippled by alcohol are no longer welcome. Has the human condition become negated? Has human weakness turned into concrete? Has the Nietzschean state of “over-man,” one who has overcome the human condition, been achieved?
The hungry are forced to forgo another meal. Did we emerge from the Great Recession by solving hunger and securing good paying jobs? Or have our trash cans miraculously turned into Horns of Plenty?
We borrow monies to finance wars of choice. We hock our children’s futures so tyrants in Egypt and Afghanistan can access Halliburton, Blackwater, McDonnell-Douglas and other peddlers of war — corporations soaked in the blood of our uniformed children and countless faceless citizens of faraway places. But we can’t afford to feed the hungry. Or offer sanctuary to homeless women hunted like animals on our streets. Something as simple as a roof over one’s head has now become a luxury out of reach for the homeless poor.
When did a meal become an unreasonable demand? I am a simple man, but I do know that there but for the grace of God go I. And for those who profess to live their lives by the Bible, I vaguely remember a phrase saying, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you do this for me. But I’m paraphrasing. I’m simply a simple man with his guts torn to shreds.
— Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.