Saturday, March 10, 2007

February Just Posts

justpostfeb2007
I don't know if homelessness exists in every city in the states, but I am going to assume it exists in most. I often watch other people's reactions when walking by someone who appears to be homeless. Some pick up the pace and stare straight ahead. Some look at the person and offer some sort of smile, a compassionate something or other. Spare change. Some folks are cruel, get a job.

What I know is that it's hard enough to be in this situation without other people passing judgment. What I know is that each one of these men and women are in a difficult place. What I know is that for the grace of god go I.

It's easy to feel helpless. The reality is there isn't much you can do in the moment to assist someone in this situation - it's more about legislation and policy to get at the big picture, anyways. But the one thing you can do is be kind.

Kindness matters. Taking a moment to look the person in the eye, to offer that inconsequential bit of spare change, to exchange a few words. It matters. It makes one feel human.

Imagine if everyone avoided you, all day every day. Imagine if you felt invisible. Alone. And on top of that, you slept in a doorway.

If you have a moral objection to offering spare change, I can understand that. It doesn't work for everyone, and I am not saying it has to. I don't always have money to give. But if I don't, or if I just don't want to, I still answer them. I'll look the person in the eye and respond. I won't just ignore their pleas. I also realize you need to be mindful of personal safety, and if a situation ever feels sketchy, no one is asking you to channel Mother Teresa. But more often than not, it's not fear that makes us look the other way.

Because if I was the one pleading, I'd want to be answered.

I realize there is more to this, and not everyone has the same views on personal and social responsibility. That's ok. We don't have to agree and this doesn't need to be a dissertation about the right way to deal with this societal crisis. God knows I carry on enough about the societal implications of the lack of truly affordable housing.

But I think we can agree that kindness matters, moreso in those moments when it is least expected. And for the grace of god go we. If we all can stand being a bit more uncomfortable, I wonder how much more comfort we can share.

This month's Roundtable is terrific. So many beautiful and passionate voices about so many different issues. You all made me think a bit harder this month. And made me want to try a little more. And don't forget to walk over to Mad's end of the table too.

Those who spoke:

KC with how does your garden grow

Alice at And She Wrote with several posts all linked with the tag About Human Rights

Julie went social justice crazy this month...all of her posts are linked via this portal post but we've also picked a couple of whamdoodles to highlight here, including
think it's your body, your choice? and parenting prison

Sin with looking closely and langa means sun

Alejna with grammaticality judgments

Sass with i will never leave you

Green Parenting with ten reasons

Joy with it's still tits

Mouse with on marriage

Mouse keeps rocking it with her Global Warming Wednesdays: Pulling our Heads out of the Sand; Valentine's Edition; Mouse the Vampire Slayer; and Polar Opposites

Slouching Mom with they never expected this

Amber with happy looooove day

Deb with connectedness

Chani with social justice on line safety

Jill with commentary

Andrea with mrs. jellyby

Ann with playing with fire

Danigirl with code blue for daycare

Jess with cary and isaac

Hel with i dream a better future

Antique Mommy with Good Nurse, Bad Nurse

Jory DesJardins of Pause with On Dying Well

Those who listened:
Susanne at Creative Mother Thinking
Mary G.
Mouse at The Mouse's Nest
Alejna at collecting tokens
KC at wheres my cape
Kari at katronika
Kiki at sticking to the point
Kat at mama tulip
Andrea at athena dreaming
Mad at Under the Mad Hat
Jen at one plus two

Join us next month. If you write or read about social justice in it's various forms, send it our way. We'd love to have you join us around the fire. We are officially now part of The Whole Mom
webzine as well, and we look forward to more voices joining us in the future.

105 comments:

Hel said...

For the grace of God go I. So true. I keep on thinking of the ice blocks mentioned in your previous post and feeling sad.


I read somewhere that the reason we are uncomfortable with psychosis is that it awakens our own. But for that exact reason it is important to open ourselves up to those things we fear in ourselves and to be compassionate.

I imagine the same would apply to homelessness.

I look forward to reading the posts.

I am so glad you are who you are.

Mad Hatter said...

Lovely, Jen. So many people say to me, "don't give change. They'll only spend it on drugs or alcohol." Such a response frustrates me b/c simply by witholding change, we are not curing a person's addiction (and face it, homeless is not alway a question of addiction.) My response it to give the change when I can but then realize I have to give 5 times that amount to the societal agencies like yours that work for positive systemic change.

Thank you again, Jen, for another heart-felt, elegant post.

slouching mom said...

My grandmother, who was a lady, a real lady, lived in NYC and used to pass many, too many, homeless people on her way to her favorite diner for lunch. They'd ask for money, and she'd reply, "I won't give you money, but I will take you to the diner and get you a meal." Many took her up on it: my heart contracts at the memory of this 84-year-old woman and her homeless companions eating lunch. Only once did a man take offense at her denial of money and knock her to the ground. She kept right on offering to buy anyone and everyone meals. She was a lovely, special person.

Thanks for reminding me.

crazymumma said...

How I live by those words, but for the grace of (choose you deity) go I. One slip, one decision can change the course of a life.

It is rare that I do not give change, and as I have children and am usually carrying some sort of food, I will give that if I have no money on me.

But one thing I ALWAYS try to do, is look them in the eye and acknowledge their humanity their dignity.

You know how I feel about homelessness and poverty. It is an unimaginable hell.

deb said...

Because of you and reading about your work I now always give money to people when they ask. Often the people look surprised too and I feel bad because to me it is so little, I have more than enough and I'm happy to share, but for them it is so much. It doesn't seem right that there is so much disparity. But I'm glad I'm doing it and able to do it. Thanks for inspiring me to help change the world, one small kindness at a time.

Marymurtz said...

I've been writing about my brother's journey to hell recently; he is currently homeless so this situation really cuts close. I have an entirely new viewpoint on the problem, and unfortunately it isn't any clearer.

Homelessness is a serious issue, but for the homeless it is a symptom of a much larger set of problems. Anyone who insists "Oh, they LIKE not having responsibilities" should be slapped.

KC said...

We all have spare kindness to give. Thank you for asking.

How many have been helped by you?

It just amazes me.

Thailand Gal said...

I do try to carry around a bit of extra change. At this point, I can usually sort the scammers from those who really do need it. Sometimes it would be great to really talk with them, find out what led them to that place ~ but respecting someone's dignity and privacy is important, too.

Just once... I wish I would be in a position to meet one of them, make the right kind of connection and say, "okay.. it's time. I'm taking you home."

There is a solution, as we all know. The real question is whether or not people will be courageous enough to carry it out.

The obvious solution is to replace predatory capitalism with a more mixed economy ~ more socialism.


Peace,

~Chani

meno said...

I don't give money because, unlike Chani, i don't know how to sort the scammers from the truly needy. But i can make eye contact and smile.

Although would it really be so terrible to give money to someone who doesn't need it? Hmmmm.

Deezee said...

You always form just the right phrases to put the most human face on homelessness...and with that raise everyone's sensitivity.

I applaud Just Posts and celebrate all who contributed this month...

Emily said...

I'm curious about what you think about the giving of spare change. I certainly subscribe to the idea of giving money generously to places who are making change...specifically for women overcoming addiction. And I've had those times of offering someone a ride rather than change for the bus...and suddenly they don't want it anymore. I feel more comfortable buying food...but I'm wondering if you have any practical ideas for this. I live in a neighborhood where addiction is a major problem and I often feel the tension of wanting to be compassionate and yet not supporting addiction. Any thoughts?

Laurie said...

You're so right, but for the grace of god...

Beautifully written and heart-wrenching post Jen.

Beck said...

Thanks for writing this. Homelessness isn't a problem in my community, in that the potentially homeless move to the Big City and THEN become homeless. My kids' Sunday School makes bags for the homeless, with soap, socks, toothbrushes, a phone card and a card from the kids (among other little things) and I think that's such important work for them, realizing that these are vulnerable people who need help.

jen said...

Emily,
I'll write a post to answer yout question early next week. Of course, coming from my perspective only....:)

flutter said...

I just love this.

Em said...

Wow - you bring back such a strong memory... of being in NYC where there were so many homeless people and their suffering was so evident and extreme (especially in winter)... where it was so hard to know what to do... One night I was out late walking home with some groceries - just one bag with a few snacks and I saw a man in a doorwell huddling... and I asked "do you want these" and he said "yes" so I handed the bag to him and he said "thanks" and I could see how truly grateful he was and I was honestly surprised (how awful/shameful is that) because I sort of assumed he'd only want money or drugs ... not food (previously I'd only ever given loose coins).

Another memory I have is of seeing a man sleeping on the sidewalk and wondering if he was okay... and seeing a woman go up and ask him if he was okay (he said he was) but I learnt something from that woman - her compassion and concern were so meaningful and human and necessary.

One last memory... seeing homeless people near 5th Avenue - the immediate contrast of extreme wealth and poverty... and seeing a man walk out of a very expensive hotel and throw $10 a homeless woman who begging on the street. It was "kind" to give the money, but he didn't look her in the eye, he didn't speak to her, and evidentally had utter disdain for her... which made me realise that without HUMANITY the money only counts for so much...

Thank you for this post.

kristen said...

Even if don't have the spare money, I always address the request, I learned that many years ago in San Francisco, when someone railed me for ignoring him, very justly I might add.

I'm computer-challenged and can't put the button on my blog but I did link back here, sorry!

Kyla said...

I do try to be kind when I come across people who are homeless...because they are and were people long before they became homeless, and they still deserve to be treated as people. My husband is against giving money to them, because he feels that so many times it is a scam...but I always say I'd rather give to lots of people who don't need it on the off chance I'm helping the one person who does.

So much reading!!

NotSoSage said...

I'm torn on the issue of spare change because I feel that a larger amount given to an organization will likely do more good than spare change to five or six people over the course of my day. I look forward to your post on this issue. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who use that same excuse and then never actually give to an agency.

It makes me so angry to hear the argument that, "they'll just spend it on booze." Does your boss peruse all of your accounts to see how you spend money?

Momish said...

You know jen, I have to sheepishly admit that I was too often one of those people that walked by and looked the other way (or gave a quick, curt response). Living in a major city, I have grown up bombarded with people begging at every other corner. You become conditioned to it after a while, even if that in itself speaks volumes about society and perhaps myself too! But, since working with the mentally ill earlier in my life and now reading your blog, I have come to form a different opinion and feel I am more compassionate and aware. I hope that helps to know your words here have made a difference in at least one person.

So many postst to read, I will be up late tonight for sure!

crazymumma said...

Just came back to say (after reading that you wish to come to Toronto for a visit)...you gotta know we would ALL cut each other in competition to get you to stay at our places.

Door is ALWAYS open up here...

Sandra said...

What Anne said .. except you MUST stay with me :)

This post of yours is stunning. So lovely and poignant and important. So are your Just posts and I am so glad you and Mad have kept on promiting them.

My hat is off to you as usual.

jen said...

I am SO coming to Toronto.

I am SO coming.

mamatulip said...

Your posts always make me think outside of the box, Jen. Always.

Thank you.

I'm really sorry I didn't write about this on my blog this weekend -- this weekend was long and busy and it got away from me. I'll be touching on it today.

DaniGirl said...

Thank you so much for the link and the shout-out. I'm very humbled to be in such great company.

Susanne said...

As always thanks for hosting the Just Posts and I'm delighted to see that the list is growing month by month.

Your thoughts about treating the homeless gave me something to think about. I'm usually ignoring them out of fear and that's not okay.

Alice said...

Thanks so much for including me! I have come across so many wonderful writers through your "Just Posts."

Hydrocodone said...

YeoNHH The best blog you have!

follow a neg am loan said...

X70JTq Magnific!

amalfi coast from sorrento tour said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

south beach diet what is fioricet said...

Thanks to author.

celebrex and heart disease said...

Good job!

refinance student loan said...

Nice Article.

vicodin viagra cialis said...

Wonderful blog.

inexpensive vicodin said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

fast tramadol said...

Nice Article.

acetaminophen tramadol hcl said...

Nice Article.

phentermine ingredient said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

JohnBraun said...

B64xlW write more, thanks.

college sex ameature said...

Wonderful blog.

dvd chinese sex said...

Please write anything else!

anime sex sendspace said...

Thanks to author.

lesbian oral sex said...

Hello all!

gay anal rape porn said...

Hello all!

sex after transgendering said...

Hello all!

erotic sex confessions said...

Wonderful blog.

oral sex female said...

Good job!

beautiful girls sex said...

Nice Article.

beastiality sex beastiality said...

Please write anything else!

couples kit sex said...

Thanks to author.

hot asian sex said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

puke guys sex said...

Nice Article.

mai cosplay sex said...

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

nibblz having sex said...

C++ should have been called B

dog women sex said...

Please write anything else!

free lesbian porn without credit ca said...

Ever notice how fast Windows runs? Neither did I.

brazil lesbian sex said...

Calvin, we will not have an anatomically correct snowman!

brazil free sex said...

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

ainimal girl sex said...

A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience.

ivana fuckalot sex said...

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

german alcohol legisl said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

cialis anti impotence said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

ultram er said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

introducing anal sex said...

Calvin, we will not have an anatomically correct snowman!

belgian biscuit sex said...

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

girlfriend sex video said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

arab harem sex said...

Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector.

all hardcore sex said...

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

sex blowjobs xxx said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

danger anal sex said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

oral sex boy said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

cocaine cobalt blue tes said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

name said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

dvd porn sites said...

640K ought to be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates 81

teen teen porn model said...

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

animated cartoon porn said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

lingeries sex galleries said...

Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector.

avril having sex said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

free stockings porn galleries said...

Nice Article.

chuck conner porn said...

640K ought to be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates 81

gay porn free video said...

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

anal sex prepare said...

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

full sex sue said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

porn torrent said...

Energizer Bunny Arrested! Charged with battery.

hardcore sex comic said...

Save the whales, collect the whole set

idaho alcohol said...

Clap on! , Clap off! clap@#&$NO CARRIER

centaur sex stories said...

640K ought to be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates 81

piss sex orgie said...

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

britsh sex contacts said...

Hello all!

cartoon sex directory said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

force sex fantasy said...

Clap on! , Clap off! clap@#&$NO CARRIER

hot teen porn said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

insest sex sorties said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

web cam free view porn said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

jasmin live sex said...

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

predicting babys sex said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

antonella barbosa porn said...

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

teens sex sites said...

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

canadian amature porn said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

1night standsfor sex said...

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

performing tantra sex said...

Nice Article.

long term use of phentermine said...

Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector.

cheap phentermine no rx phentermine airborne ex said...

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

carisoprodol phentermine yellow said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

ich cgi sex said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.