COLD COMFORT ON A –2°C WINTER DAY
Promises will not put a roof over your head tonight. When you are living on the street the future is now. Life is shortened to the need for something to eat a place to sleep, a place to clean up or even have a piss and a crap. The pain and chill of the elements is a constant and a reality from which there would appear to be no escape. You self medicate with drugs or alcohol because the altered state is better than the reality of your current situation.
They, the authorities, would force you into a shelter, if there are any available, where your meagre belongings would be plundered or by accepting the shelter would not be allowed. The early morning ejection into the street into the chill of dawn four hours before you could get a hot drink and something to eat is not something to look forward to.
So you set up camp in a doorway and spent the night in the storm at least with some security of self. You beg and the world is mostly immune to your plight as people pass you yammering on their cell phones or with trendy iPods plugged into their heads looking right through you as if you didn’t exist.
We are afraid to acknowledge that there but for the grace of God, they could be us. We whinge and moan to ourselves and say isn’t awful or dribble out small bits of change to assuage our guilty consciences. We all say “Isn’t awful” while we praise and reward the politicians who made homelessness possible and treat these same politicians to lavish pensions when they retire after awarding the corporate elite our taxpayer dollars while they robbed the poor.
Homelessness is about now, homelessness is about the pain right now; homelessness will not be solved with empty promises or lofty rhetoric and fine speeches on the rubber chicken circuit. The question is what are we doing about it? Homelessness is the leading edge of a failed state and if we cannot look after the least of us what kind of monsters are we?
©Copyright January 2, 2009 by John-Ward Leighton