Tag Archives: homelessness

Homeless, well not really

Today when I headed out for our regular morning walk something distracted me and I forgot my house keys.

We had a lovely morning walk, it is unseasonably warm and clear, in spite of the weather predictions calling for rain. The mountains were out, I think that may be a Seattle phrase. They are often hidden by clouds.

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The pups and I walk about two and a quarter miles, generally the same route with two moderate hills and, on days like today, nice views of the Olympic mountains. We don’t make very good time, the pups and I sniff stuff.  We humans sniff in funny ways. I mostly “sniff” by taking pictures.

On arriving home I couldn’t find my keys. My husband was out on a bike ride. We have a neighbor with an extra set but there were no signs of life at his house. So I pulled a few weeds and did a little yard clean up.

Then we re-walked our morning route backwards. No keys… But the views were still nice.

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I got up my courage and rang the neighbor’s doorbell. No one was home. Did a little more in the yard, but the sun had moved around and it was starting to cool down. I sat on our porch in the one chair that still has a cushion and wrapped myself up in the warm clothes I had peeled off during the middle of the day and tried to “study” Chinese by closing my eyes and remembering the lessons. Boy am I out of practice with that! I used to be okay at it, and it served me well when taking tests.

Eventually my husband rolled up on his bike, the dogs went crazy. As if it hadn’t been a splendid day for them: it was sunny and 65 degrees F (18 or so Celsius). They got two longish walks and laid in the sun. They had plenty of water and got lots of love and weren’t ever left alone.

I reflected on my day (actually only about 5 hours) of being “homeless”, but kept coming back to the things I had:

We had the sheltered porch with a cushioned Adirondack chair. I had running water (hose spigot) and geoduck shells (Pronounced: “goo-ey duck”, geoducks are super sized clams) I could use as a drinking vessel. I didn’t get into the emergency supplies out in the shed, but they are there. Worst case the dogs and I could stay pretty warm in the shed if the weather had been less temperate. I also had the confidence that Richard would be home before dark, and the neighbors would eventually come home.

It made me think about people who really don’t have a home. Even though I couldn’t get in I had a place to be…What would I have done without it?

This post started out as a response to the prompt Study. I’m not sure where it ended up, but I ended up grateful.

Who is my neighbor?

I can always tell when my next-door neighbors are going somewhere, because my bark alarm goes off. Asta’s high pitched barks start it, followed by Ginger’s lower, but lilting “Wooowoowoo”. If it is just a squirrel or bird, or the wind, Ginger doesn’t go off. But: is the bark alarm the best definition of who is my neighbor? (In which case it also includes everyone who walks their dog in front of our house, our mail carrier, and miscellaneous other delivery folks.)

This question was asked of Jesus when he said to “love your neighbor as yourself”. As usual, he didn’t give a straight answer. He launched into the well known story of the Good Samaritan. It’s in Luke, chapter 10. Since there are so many translations out there the exact words you know may differ a bit.

Seeing this mornings Daily Post Prompt, followed by skimming the morning paper, brought that vignette from the Bible to mind.

Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you think the Bible is literally true or not, there is a power in this story that has shaped much of the Western worldview. This is the gold standard for how we are to treat each other..or is it?

Two articles in the paper show the two sides of this. The front page headline this morning was: “GOP tax plan a boon for business”. I can’t find a link for it, the story originated from the New York Times and the Seattle Times doesn’t seem to have a link for it on their site. However, the real story, the one that should have taken up the entire front page in my opinion, was this: Who wins and who loses in the Republicans’ tax-code rewrite. Every citizen in the US should read that one. There is a stark contrast between the winners and losers and the story of the Good Samaritan. This is the party that supposedly represents conservative Christians? Hmmm…Reminds one a bit of the priest and Levite who crossed the street so they wouldn’t have to go near the injured man, before the hero of the story, the merchant from a different area, came along.

The second article was in the local section, also about taxes, but with a different slant:  “How would candidates spend your money?” In it the lefty loose-y Seattle mayoral candidates are debating how they will try to solve the homeless crisis*. The article was gentle on them, after all at least they are trying to be humane, but the bottom line is that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.

We don’t have the resources of the rich merchant who paid for the care of the injured man. There is some talk of trying to get the money out of our local rich merchants (and developers) via taxation. Our local rich merchants are better known for buying football teams then hitting the taxpayers up for the cost of a fancy new stadium, funding U.F.O hunts, and things like that. (The Gates Foundation is a notable exception, and I am not saying that there is no charity from others, just that it isn’t as notable as using huge influence to make regular citizens subsidize their businesses.)

In trying to be both truthful (about my ignorance) and fair, I digressed from my trajectory: The contrast between the behaviors and perceptions related to “Christianity”.

To hear Fox “News”, and even loonier right-wing nuts, you’d think that the lefty loose-y’s are Godless, evil people and the Republicans are the chosen people. And yet, if one uses the Good Samaritan test, we see a very different story. The Republican tax plan and health “care” plan will likely add to the homeless problem over time: more people will be bankrupted and lose their homes as health care becomes increasingly expensive and unavailable, and we are hobbling the future for our youth with the huge increase in national debt meaning more of them will lead lives farther down the economic food chain.

Alms are fine, but that is not a good excuse for creating a system that deliberately, and it is deliberate, drops more people into the steep sided pit of needing them.

Sorry about being both a bit religious and a bit political, which I mostly am not, but I am trying to figure out how to vote.

* My personal opinion about how to approach homelessness:
Since turnips don’t bleed, I feel these mayoral debates are about everything that they can’t do as a mayor (meaning a waste of time). Homelessness is not a local problem. It isn’t even just regional. It is  nation-wide, assuming closed borders, and should be addressed at the national level.

Instead of Seattle’s candidates spouting off solutions that can’t be enacted, and, if successful, will just create a vacuum to suck more people into the area, there should be a nation-wide approach that has some consistency and cohesiveness to it (don’t let the US congress loose on it!). Mayors and governors should get it going instead of trying to go it alone, which is using a band-aid to try and stop a hemorrhage.

Mine’s not a slick easy answer, but homelessness isn’t one problem. It’s one symptom which can result from many underlying causes.

I’ll stop now.