Monday, September 08, 2008

The Homeless Kid and the Harper Majority

A while back I wrote a post about a young homeless guy who lived under the ramp of an expressway not far from where I live.

He's mentally ill and used to talk to himself loudly or sing. From time to time I would drop off a pizza, or some coffee and sandwiches. But I never got to meet him because when he saw me he used to run away.

And now I never will.

When I went by on my bike today I noticed the city had closed off the area.

With two big iron fences.

And for extra measure.

Lots of big rocks so no poor person can sleep there again.

Although, as is always the case.

All they succeeded in doing was moving their homeless problem.

Further down the street.

Don't you love the little houseplant?

Now I admit I'm an idealist. I get kidded a lot about it. Nobody cares about the homeless. Even my friends. If I didn't have a companion who is even more hopelessly idealistic than I am, I don't know what I'd do.

But I do know that I expect better from Canada my promised land. I expect our rulers to put every dollar they can get their fucking paws on to build cheap housing and treatment clinics for the mentally ill and the drug addicted. Instead of building fences.

So no Canadian has to live and suffer like that in a country as rich as ours.

Am I REALLY asking too much? That's what I thought politics or being a Canadian was all about. But now I wonder. There is after all a fine line between idealism and idiocy. I know because I cross it all the time.

And in a country where people seem prepared to give a heartless neo-con thug a majority.

So he can destroy what's left of our Canadian values and turn our country into a jungle. Just because they think a bully is a strong leader. Or they don't want to pay more for cheap gas.

I suppose ANYTHING is possible.

I'll never give up hoping for something better of course. Or fighting the miserable Cons. Or crossing that line.

But tonight I'm just depressed...


Beijing York said...

A very touching post Simon. That shot that included the houseplant really caught me off guard. Beautiful and heart breaking at once.

So many forget that homeless people are our family, friends and neighbours -- it doesn't take much these days to get there. So why wouldn't they cherish the same things we all do and hold on to a plant. I hate what we have become as a society.

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing- saying what you see and know. am trying not to get too down here in the usa with the presidential campaigners; and obama declaring the serge a success...

Anonymous said...

No need to be depressed Simon, it's not your fault. By voicing your opinions in a blog like this one, you're doing all you can to exercise your rights of citizenship, which is better then we can say for most people.

In my other job that isn't browsing the internet, I work on the ambulance as a Paramedic, and I see on an almost daily basis how dismal a state of affairs we are in when it comes to poverty, unemployment, treatment centres for drug addiction, and homelessness. Just a couple things for you to consider, however, before you get upset, blame yourself, or blame your city.

You hit the head on the nail when you recognized that some of the biggest problems we are facing with homelessness is drug treatment centres and assistance for acute mental health. The problem with those, as is reflected in the step program run by AA - you have to want assistance. If the homeless people are managing alright, even though they are homeless, we cannot force drug assistance or mental health care upon them. I think you would be pleasantly surprised to discover how many resources actual exist for people living with drug addictions and mental health challenges. The problem is not as much pouring more money into social assistance programs, but pouring money into compassionate street programs - between social work, ambulance, the police and homeless shelters - to let these workers help these people help themselves.

Secondly, I think you would be very surprised to discover that many, many, many homeless persons live on the street out of choice rather then out of necessity. Rather then argue that one, however, I will point you in the direction of a book called "The Glass Castle", about homelessness and poverty in the US. The book is by Jeannette Walls.

Chin up!

Simon said...

Hi beijing york!! I'm glad you like that story. It's a small one, but I also found the houseplant touching.
And just another reminder, as you say, that homeless people are as human as everyone else, even if they are treated so inhumanly.
I don't know how people can go by somebody lying on the sidewalk as if they weren't there. Whenever I see that it really bothers me. I'm not much help to them but at least I treat them like humans...

Simon said...

Hi anonymous !! hey don't get too down. I'm naturally moody because I come from some little village in Scotland where EVERYONE is like that. But our progressive cause is beautiful and the only way to go if we're going to make a better world. They can hold us back for a while, but they can never stop us !!

Simon said...

Hi BriBri !! Thank you for your very interesting and informative comment. You must have realized by now that I sometimes ...OK almost ALWAYS..lead with my heart rather than my head. Ugh. But as a paramedic you must get an amazing view of the problem.

So I thought this was really interesting:

"The problem is not as much pouring more money into social assistance programs, but pouring money into compassionate street programs - between social work, ambulance, the police and homeless shelters - to let these workers help these people help themselves."

That makes a lot of sense.We're lucky to have people like you out there helping people.

I think I can solve all the problems of the world just by writing. But I'm learning... :)