I love driving our young son to school in the morning when I get the chance. We have a great visit. Children are so honest.
We sometimes encounter the yellow school bus that is dropping off Hospitality House guests. It is a good opportunity for a discussion about homeless people — an issue our society has never been able to solve. (And yes, I know some people consider the term “homeless” pejorative).
When I went to Cal in the late ’70s (class of ’81), I dived into an “investigative report” about the homeless problem around campus for the Daily Cal newspaper. I was hardly a “bleeding heart”; I just wanted some answers. (My other beat was “local perspectives on international news,” which involved interviewing some highly conservative but respected professors about Mideast politics).
In my reporting, I learned “homelessness” was a complex issue on many fronts: People who wanted and needed help — and yes, people who were OK with that lifestyle. A lack of communication — and a lack of respect — between the homeless and the community also played a big role.
My father, a staunch conservative, volunteered for the U.S. Census in Sonoma County years ago, and he told me stories about interviewing homeless people under bridges and other remote places.
Some of them just fell into a string of hard times: losing their job, then divorcing, then being all alone. It was a learning experience for him too.
In our community, I know the issue is a “hot button.” I know and respect the people on both sides — Steve Enos, Cindy Maples, Reinette Senum, Robert Bergman and some health and human services officials at the Rood Center. We are a diverse bunch and need to celebrate that.
One night, I visited the “cold shelter” at the Vet’s Hall with our son when it was snowing hard one night. Homelessness is a problem that gets passed on from generation to generation, and we can learn together.
One day, I hope, we’ll make some more progress. We have a long way to go, but I think it begins with human respect — finding something in common with people who are less fortunate than us for whatever reason. Yup, some are probably just “freeloaders”; but others aren’t, so let’s “dig deeper” to find out.
Here’s a video:
Filed under: Uncategorized