Monday, January 16, 2012
While reading the Sunday paper yesterday, I came across a letter to the editor that really irked me. I feel I must write about it and I hope you'll indulge me. I won't take long, promise.
The writer stated that he'd like the city to move panhandlers "temporarily" from an exit ramp that will receive heavy traffic on Superbowl Sunday. To quote him, "every night as I exit the ramp, I have to endure the soulful looks from the panhandlers who seem to have staked out their territory. I find it disconcerting that this is the first impression that people coming in for the Super Bowl will get. Can we find a way to rid our ramps of these people for the week of the game?"
Seriously, I don't know where to begin. This is sad to me on a number of levels. The writer signed his name and apparently lives in one of the more affluent areas. Instead of wasting paper, perhaps he should count his blessings that he's never hit rock bottom like some of the individuals he described. Remember the saying, "never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes?" Or how about, "there but for the grace of God, go I".
These are hard times we're living in. I would think most people don't have to look very far to see the effects of the rough economy on someone they know; but maybe the fellow who wrote that travels in different circles. I'm not sure he realizes how many people are just one step away from a chain of events that could send them in a downward spiral. I find his suggestion of temporarily removing unsavory people from view abominable. In a word, I find it a selfish idea when what is desperately needed is some kind of solution.
For every fraud who may be standing on a street corner asking for handouts, there are most certainly people who are truly homeless and have lost everything. Yes, there are agencies that help, but they aren't in a position to feed, cloth or house anyone on a daily basis. None of us can discern with one view whether or not another person is definitely in "need", but I have to ask, where is the compassion?
In my mind, resorting to standing on a corner braving the elements, begging for help would have to be the last straw in someone's life, wouldn't you agree? The bigger issue is one that cannot be waved away so that society as a whole doesn't have to feel uncomfortable. If we're talking about the demise of some once prosperous cities, we can turn in any direction and see factories and businesses that have shut down and how the enormous loss of jobs has affected the economy overall. If you're going to turn a blind eye, you've got to start at the source.
I don't have the answers. I wish I did. The Superbowl has been around for years and people will continue to attend wherever it's held and sadly probably won't think twice about someone standing on a corner. What I find distasteful is the attitude that people can and should be invisible because of their appearance or what they represent. This world needs more love, compassion, kindness, empathy. You can't solve a thing otherwise.