Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Death of Compassion

What is going on in our world? These three stories stuck out to me recently, all having to do with homeless people.

Story #1. The City Council of Las Vegas has made it illegal to feed homeless people in city parks. Why? "Residents complained that the large numbers of homeless gathering in Las Vegas' parks make it impossible for others to use them, said city spokesman David Riggleman." Has the problem of homelessness become merely an inconvenience for the rest of society?

Story #2. Deja vu all over again. This time, city officials in Orlando have followed suit, banning charitable groups from feeding the homeless in downtown parks. This came in response to "
complaints from business owners and residents that homeless people were causing problems at a downtown park popular with joggers and dog walkers."

How big of a safety problem do homeless people present? Enough that we throw any sense of compassion out the window?

Story #3. This comes from our friends in Paris. Last December, a group called "Doctors of the World" began distributing tents to homeless people, in part to make the problem of homelessness more visible. But now, saying that the tents are "
unsanitary and dangerous," city officials want them removed, or at least moved. According to the story, "Doctors of the World says it will take down one tent for every permanent housing option provided by the government." Graciela Robert, who heads the group's homeless mission, says, "We never said that tents were the solution, but a tent is better than the sidewalk."

Eric Creuly, who's been homeless since losing his job last year, said, "I realize they can't just come up with 1,000 new lodgings, just like that, but are we supposed to believe anyone is really trying? I'm tired of all this talk."

I think many of us are tired of all the talk our governments do, without providing any real plans or solutions. It seems like they just want the problem to go away - they have some ideas of what ideally should happen, but no real desire or vision to make it happen.

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