“Just came from the to-go line at McDonalds–as usual, approached by the constant losers asking for money. This time, the guy was very aggressive and called me a bitch. This was at 8:30 in the morning! This got me to thinking–when the arena is built and our sparkling new, “vibrant downtown” is in place, where are all the vagrants, bums, and roving bands of juveniles going to go since I am sure the powers that be will not tolerate them down there. That’s right, probably North Sac as if we don’t have enough of this going on already. This is probably why Allen is proposing a new facility for the “homeless” in our area, most likely at the behest of his mentor, KJ. The future does not look too good for North Sac. What amazes me is the huge number of people carrying on “ a few stray cats! At least cats bury their waste!”
—Karen Solberg from Woodlake writing on NextDoor.com
Homeless people are a reality in Sacramento like in most urban areas of the United States. We all know this and live with it, hopefully try to change the situation for the better, on a daily basis. Like with all people we encounter, every homeless person we cross paths with comes with his/her own baggage(i.e. addiction issues, mental conditions, various life experiences, etc.). Those of us who are relatively better off than them often have reactions to them that don’t reflect the type of person we see ourselves as being(or actually are).
The challenge for us is to treat them as we would want to be treated ourselves(The Golden Rule). It is often hard for us to do since we see them as dirty, disgusting, potentially dangerous individuals. It is easy to see them as ‘losers’, ‘filthy animals’, and a hundred other kinds of undesirable beings.
We can acknowledge that the work of addressing the problem of the homeless here in Sacramento by government officials and non-profits has not met with a lot of success. Some would argue it is a question of more money; others would say that it is a matter of political will; others would argue it is that those that it is a matter of the homeless lacking the will to change. Others would argue that the reason is something else or a combination of factors.
Any real solution to the homeless problem requires something that is foreign to most debates on complex issues today: openness to another point of view and the ability to not see a person with a differing point of view as “the devil incarnate”. It also requires not just complaining about a problem or how our political leaders look to address that problem but the offering of ideas/solutions and constructive engagement with our political leaders(our employees and representatives).
What does not help to address the homeless issue is the dehumanization of that part of the population. I am not so naïve to believe that this is something easy to do. I know that I often struggle with this myself. It is because I recognize that I struggle with this problem as the flawed human that I try so hard to work at NOT doing it in my interactions with the homeless. I would hope that I am not the exception but the rule in this. I have to hope on this Easter Day that Karen and others like her will heed the message of hope and resurrection that the holiday represents.