Sunday 1 December 2019

A letter to my co-worker (who will probably never read this)

To start off, let me set the topic. Our conversation about homelessness this morning.

You had said something about the homelessness epidemic being such a shame, and how the fellow across the road sleeping in a doorway shouldn't be there. I agreed thinking there was compassion in your heart...

But then you continued and said that "it's really their own fault". I was stunned and could only say "Really?". You elaborated by telling me of the times you've witnessed "some of them completely tweaking". Now knowing you to be one to drink and smoke-up I asked, "Someone's life is going so shitty that they're huddled sleeping on a business' porch in a freezing rain and ice storm, and you're gonna tell them they're not allowed use $20 on drugs to escape the crappiness for a few hours?"

You got all insulted and straightened your back saying that you might drink and get tattoos but you "prioritise food and a roof". I was so dumbfounded that all I could say was "$20 won't get you an apartment." And left the room before I lost control.

Now that I'm not at work I don't have to hold back and all I can say is what-the-ever-living-fuck? What non-suicidal person doesn't prioritise the necessities of life? Do you honestly believe that you are so fundamentally different?

When have you ever had to worry about the cops destroying your property for the crime of sleeping? When have you ever had to wonder IF you would eat today? When have you ever had to choose between shelter OR food? Do you not understand how hard it is to be poor? and how much harder it is to be homeless?

Without even knowing this guy's story, you're convinced that given the same life, you could have made choices to not be in the same place. Are you really so blind to your privilege? Do you really believe you can always make decisions to keep you safe? Do you really believe that everything is under your control?

Or are you just scared that if you have any sort of compassion for the underserved of our community, you'll have to recognise that they're humans in shitty situations and you're just a few months/a few accidents/a few small changes away from being in the exact same place.

I have no idea how to explain our privilege to you, I have no idea how to teach you empathy, so I will not be sending this to you, only venting to the world.

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