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A Hardening of the Heart?
In recent weeks, I have felt something new in connection to the crisis of homelessness all around me: a hardening of the heart toward some homeless people, a draining away of sympathy for their plight, a creeping cynicism about the efforts to help them.
This is a tremendously unsettling feeling to have. I fight against feeling it.
I felt it coming on when:
I started avoiding certain members of the Old Crow Book Club because I didn't want to be constantly panhandled. It's only been in recent months that they started doing this.
I've stopped trying to get them into housing and never even bring it up. Does that mean I've quit trying to help them?
I refused two homeless men standing outside a grocery store some dollars for coffee. It was 22 degrees when I did this.
I scoffed at the bullshit poetry written by homeless people that appeared in the weekly newspaper Street Roots. The poetry was immature, entirely confessional, and read more like responses to AA prompts. There was absolutely nothing interesting going on with these poems.
I read letters to the editors about the necessity of NOT moving/encouraging/compelling homeless people off the streets and into emergency and sanctioned tent shelter encampments. The letters such efforts would further traumatize homeless people and set back any progress they might have made obtaining services. This seemed like such an inhumane and immoral stance to take. People are dying out there.
I wrote a piece for this newsletter ripping the homeless miscreants and their wasteland of an encampment that has utterly destroyed a ten-acre wetlands not far from where I live.
It feels awful to feel this way and write with these feelings. But they can't be denied.
I hope I can rally.