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I think it is good to be this cold. I think that the majority of us in this country are too comfortable for empathy and although an apartment with walls can never be as cold as outdoors, it gives me a little bit of an idea of what that must be like. It also makes me aware of how quickly ones hands and feet can actually start to hurt due to being cold.
— rubyr

I got in my car this morning, turned it on, grabbed the ice/snow scraper, equipped it with my left hand still in my pullover sleeve, ran over to my wife's van and hurriedly shoveled five-inch-deep snow off it for several minutes.

She could do the rest a few hours later. My hands were already stinging from the cold, even though my body was blocking the wind. Plus, the rest was ice, which meant removing the scraper from my sleeve, grabbing plastic that had just been not suffering in 7-degree cold (with wind chill subtracting however many cruel ticks on the thermometer), and having snow warm in my sleeve and collect as a cold, wet punishment for a good deed.

Then I got in my well-running car, drove on mostly clear roads to my office job, which supports my family of three well enough, and sat working, checking things here and occasionally watching the wind play with snow and trees and cars.

The wind out there.

Not in here, where I was warmer and undisturbed by poverty, verifying information about two-thousand-dollar technology and leadership classes.



Articles about the recent cold focus mostly on the people likely to read the articles. Here's an example, translated for privilege:

Allison Pennell said not having a [day off from taxpayer-funded public education, heat, safety and food] was "a hard pill to swallow" for her two children, [who don't have to panhandle]. "They [had the energy to complain about where they would be educated, warm, safe and fed], but they had to [stay somewhere else for all of those free-to-them benefits]," she said.
The article then goes on at length about how much snow is falling all over the place, how cold the outside is and how public officials are dealing.

But people who are homeless don't have tablets to read the news as they warm themselves over coffee, so who cares?

We are not expected to care about people we don't know -- people we rarely look at.

People we avoid looking at because we do have money, but we don't trust strangers, or we are afraid of being assaulted, or we desperately do not want to care about a need with a face a foot away from us because then there goes saving for that television.

We do not want to confront, or look in the eyes, people who are homeless.

We do not want to even walk past them because then we will hear them asking for money we all know we have. I spent a summer walking past the same people who were homeless every day, and I did my utter best to avoid looking at a single pair of eyes.

They are unwanted by most, unimportant to most, and so uncovered in most news reports. Instead, the news reports on the people who have money for houses and cars and the like.

I wonder if any reporter for a metropolitan newspaper or national news service called a homeless shelter from Virginia to Maine asking about deaths due to exposure, which is code for lack of empathy.

The people who write and assign and edit these stories are assuming two things:

1) You too have more empathy for that guy shoveling his walkway than for the homeless.

2) You actually don't realize the homeless are ignored (government services notwithstanding) at their most vulnerable. When you read weather stories, you're thinking about flights, cancellations, road and traffic conditions, and pictures of people walking amid whatever natural hijinx. Has someone snapped a picture of a squirrel busily doing whatever on ice that's normally water?

So confident is the news team behind weather coverage that you don't care about the homeless that you won't find a homeless reference in the first third of a weather story. Second third? Maybe. Third third, usually. And even then, it's the director of a local homeless shelter, not an actual homeless person. See?

Even a story about helping people who are homeless quotes none through the first four pages. This story is one of two in the top ten Google News hits for "who is homeless" that actually names a person who is homeless, and the other one names a crime suspect who is homeless.

That linked top ten search result includes tonight's funniest concept: Merchants want the city to just get the homeless to skedaddle so they can have their pretty gem show and pretend homelessness doesn't exist. So delightfully pretentious, no?



"This isn't quite as ... artistic as last night's," you're thinking. "I was hoping for something as ... anti-inspirational as your line about lumps of human."

I'm hoping for a country that doesn't spend a billion dollars on an Air Force information technology project that doesn't work while also cutting spending on people who really do need that "extra" ten dollars a week.

At 600,000 people who are homeless, ten dollars per person per week would take more than three years to spend (thanks to kck for alerting me to the error).

A couponer could come damn close to feeding a person for ten dollars a week.



I have never liked or respected the concept that the problem of evil makes us that much more thankful for the good in this world.

But I have a hard time arguing against it. So when I read rubyr's comment about the good of cold, I understood it immediately and agreed as quickly.

But it goes much further than cold. It goes much further than weather. It speaks to a general level of empathy I'm convinced we're losing in this click-to-interact world.

This online world allows us to choose very specifically what kind of information we want and what kind we want to ignore. And just as you can ignore news about the cold by removing or hiding weather stories from your online media sources, you can ignore any other thing you plain don't like.

We are increasingly teaching ourselves that if we don't like something, like a two-year-old fighting asparagus (mistakenly; that stuff's amazing), we can just throw it on the floor and ignore it.

Things we did not like as children -- vegetables, homework, cleaning where light rarely goes -- we had to deal with. Now we can click to hide that political garbage that relative posted. In doing so, we are not only atrophying our ability to tolerate things we dislike, but also discarding our opportunity to educate that relative -- and, crucially, that relative's friends. Even a polite disagreement with facts is a better situation than the philosophical purity, the echo chamber, we're encouraging.

Whether it's the weather or the opinion we dislike, sometimes the protection is worse than the attacker.



Throughout this diary is this phrase:

people who are homeless

Used it for a reason. In Introduction to Special Education, I learned about people-first language.

Say a person uses a wheelchair; people-first language would say "a person who uses a wheelchair" rather than "a wheelchair-bound person." The first wording emphasizes the person first and the other element second.

Our phrasing when talking about people who are homeless tells us some terrible if unintended things about ourselves. The worst is that when we discuss homelessness, we often do not even denote that we are talking about people. We discuss "the homeless." We discuss homelessness and joblessness and poverty without ever using personal pronouns ("they" is vague and general) or even person-based nouns, like "people who do not have jobs."

Rhetoric changes opinions. Same-sex marriage is a controversial issue, but far more people are getting behind marriage equality.

And "died from exposure" is much less saddening and action-inspiring than "died because she was frigid and alone outside because her relatives gave up on her after she got hepatitis C from a guy she had sex with so she could pay rent for one last month because her job was outsourced to Mexico, and the shelter wouldn't let her in again because she's a troublemaker because she got in a fight because someone tried to steal her boots, so she had nowhere."

I used to end my diaries with a call to action to donate or write a letter or whatever. This call to action is different.

From this moment on, don't ever talk about people who are homeless without using the phrase people who are homeless. Invite your audience to think of people first and anything else about them second. Once you get them thinking about people -- a perfectly safe concept -- you are well on the way to getting people who are homeless the help they deserve.

And here is help for people who are homeless and for people who are homeful but who need other kinds of help.

Originally posted to iampunha on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 06:54 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for the Homeless Person and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you so much for this: (16+ / 0-)
    people who are homeless...
    Have made this same argument for years, or the variant, "people without homes."

    It captures so much more than just different words, doesn't it?

  •  According to your link there are 600k... (13+ / 0-)

    ...people who are  homeless, 400k of whom were born before 1964.

    I think we allocate a lot of resources to solving homelessness in US cities - the gating factor to long term solutions is not funding. But I sense we fail to distribute the resources effectively or strategically. Rural people are just screwed.

    I called my SoCal town about an elderly couple at the beach where I run who sit on a bench with a suitcase and a sign that says they're homeless and need money.  The town rep said that there are indeed resources available and that they'd investigate. After seeing this couple for several days before and after the call they're gone. I hope that's a positive sign.... It seemed to me that there should be a better solution than to give them the few bucks I carried but I wasn't confident...We have no homeless visible...but when an adjacent town polled the students in their school district 10% were homeless. 10% of all of the K-12 students in Darrel Issa's affluent Ca-49'th are people who are homeless!

  •  Another lovely diary. I am changing my (8+ / 0-)

    wording from this day forth, I deeply hope.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 08:46:07 PM PST

  •  Haven't been around DK much lately (8+ / 0-)

    so I wasn't aware of this Kossacks for the Homeless Person group until I happened across this diary.

    For grins and giggles, I guess, I flashed back through the last half dozen or so diaries posted to the group, looking for a specific topic: the Point In Time street count that is being conducted this week all across the country. Maybe I just missed that diary.

    Perhaps heart wrenching anecdotal diaries and suppositions about homelessness accomplish something beyond making the participants feel like they're doing something to relieve the suffering of those who are homeless.

    Participating in the street count, on the other hand, means taking the time to actually go out and count the homeless, face to face, on their turf. The street count provides the data from which funds are allocated to communities to serve their homeless populations. Undercounted communities receive less funding, providing fewer services, leaving more out in the cold.

    Friday morning, an hour before dawn, I'll be out captaining a team of street counters, on my own time, burning my own gas.

    Maybe someone will write a diary, I haven't got time.

    War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

    by DaNang65 on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 10:59:51 PM PST

    •  ...is this not just (5+ / 0-)

      another excuse?

      Maybe someone will write a diary, I haven't got time.
      If it's so important to spread the word, shouldn't you find the time?

      Brava for participating in the count; but please do not assume that your way is the best way and the only way that really matters.  

      Some of us just talk to the men and women we encounter; carry bus passes and $5 bills to hand out; and recognize that many without homes shun shelters for a variety of reasons, so we do what we can for the individuals we find in our little corners of the world.

      •  Wonderful comment. n/t (3+ / 0-)

        "Brava for participating in the count; but please do not assume that your way is the best way and the only way that really matters."

        I think diaries like this are crucial for raising awareness.
        BRAVO for this diary.

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 07:32:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I apologize for that entire comment. (5+ / 0-)

        It was late, I was tired, and failed to exercise any judgment with intemperate remarks in softened language.

        We're all doing what we can.

        War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

        by DaNang65 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:11:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you don't have to apologize at all. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaNang65, bigjacbigjacbigjac

          Not everybody has the time and to just say it's an excuse, is also not quite right, if one doesn't know under what conditions someone works.

        •  Your comments belong more than you think. (4+ / 0-)

          At first I was unhappy, but sometimes unhappiness comes from realizing you're not as right as you want to be.

          I hope you will, if you like, continue to help us be aware of ways we can get down in the trenches, where cold is a four-letter feeling, not a four-letter word. We may not take those opportunities, but we can spread the word.

          "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
          "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

          by iampunha on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:25:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your gracious comment (4+ / 0-)

            prompts me to "fess up." As mentioned above it was late and I was tired when I read

            That linked top ten search result includes tonight's funniest concept: Merchants want the city to just get the homeless to skedaddle so they can have their pretty gem show and pretend homelessness doesn't exist. So delightfully pretentious, no?
            "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make angry." That graf lit my fire. I'm more than a little familiar with that whole story, among other things having slept in that same park as an Occupy hardgrounder (I had another place to sleep, I chose to be there.) The same individual who's stirring up hard feelings now was a constant disruption to Occupy as well.

            Considering the genuine economic importance of the Gem and Mineral Show to the community, the City really is trying to make reasonable accommodation.

            In the light of rested day it's easy to see how a wire service news article about that story comes across far different than it does to those of us here on the ground struggling to deal with getting folks to "come in." From intimate familiarity I see it in a very different light.

            Perhaps someday I'll find the time and inclination to diary how it looks from a worm's eye view.

            War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

            by DaNang65 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:48:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hope you do write about it. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bigjacbigjacbigjac, Gorette

              More perspectives are useful for those of us who can't do daytime volunteering because we are, for example, still recovering from a few months of unemployment a few months ago :)

              "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
              "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

              by iampunha on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:50:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Your experiences and perspective from (0+ / 0-)

              "a worm's eye view" would be invaluable here in helping understand the people you are working to help. I would be very eager to read your words.

              "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

              by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:25:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I participate in the counting for DC on Jan 29 (6+ / 0-)

      and also linked in my diary to it, hoping may be someone would register. I was supposed to get my training session yesterday evening, but we had so cold and icy street conditions I couldn't make it. Hopefully tonight though. It's dangerously cold in the evening.

      I apologize to not have written a separate diary about it, because I didn't know it was a nationwide endeavour. For me that's all new.

      I intend to write a diary about the experience, but am usually not the fastest in writing, because, yes, I admit to that excuse, I have very little time. May be because I am a low-lewel "assistant" in our busy news studio and can't afford to get out during the day and even have difficulties often to make it to evening appointments before 7pm.
       

      •  Your diary about you experiences will be (4+ / 0-)

        especially appreciated, mimi, precisely because you are outside the "system" but helping to make it work. By sharing your "fresh eyes" with the wider community I sincerely hope you are able to attract many more persons of goodwill to participate next year and for as many years as it takes.

        War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

        by DaNang65 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:09:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We are all learning some about this (5+ / 0-)

        right now.

        I found out some about the nationwide counting effort last night as I was finishing my diary. For me, it is a reminder that I could and should donate more of the food I have no use for because other people -- whether people who are homeless or people who are struggling -- could use it.

        Doing anything is better than doing nothing :)

        "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
        "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

        by iampunha on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:24:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Couldn't tip, (0+ / 0-)

      but consider yourself tipped DaNang.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:56:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's great you do this! Just don't denigrate (0+ / 0-)

      those who write about it and try to persuade others to look at poverty. It is very important to do so and ultimately change minds and perhaps get others to do important work like you are doing.

      Part of the problem in society is not enough people talking and writing and seeing poverty. So any efforts to help people see it is a step toward doing something about it!! You should know that. But I can understand feeling angry that there are not more people actually on the front lines working to help as you are. Perhaps writing about the steps people can take to participate in that way would be helpful because most of us do not know about such work.

      And as a person living in poverty myself, I thank you.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:20:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrote this before reading your further comments, (0+ / 0-)

        which I really appreciated, and sorry to have done it that way.

        Thank you for all you do.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:27:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If we don't institute some sort of... (7+ / 0-)

    minimum income for all citizens soon, this is going to increase.

    There are deep systemic problems that CANNOT be solved in any other way.

    Automation and offshoring coupled with population growth ENSURE that homelessness can only increase. Think about it. What else CAN happen? It's not possible for all these people to simply go work at McDonalds or become web designers! Seriously.

    Yet the Republicans (and, I'm sorry to say, many in our own party) view this as a MORAL issue. It isn't.
    It is what it is:

    A systemic problem due to late-stage Capitalism.

    We (as a society) can EASILY solve this problem. But we choose not to. Because, quite honestly, in order for a few to live like Princes, like "masters-of-the-universes", many MUST be reduced to poverty.

    A society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. - Lewis Lapham

    by joegoldstein on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 06:02:45 AM PST

    •  I always look back to Thomas Paine... (6+ / 0-)

      When people talk about guaranteed income, I always think back to Agrarian Justice, a pamphlet he wrote at the end of the 18th century. In it, he advocated for a citizen wage for people 21 and older.

      This isn't something we can simply vote for in elections either. It will take years. Possibly decades, because people in America are so scared of their own shadow that any proposed changed designed to directly benefit them is communism.

      Guaranteed income and free education are the way to go in my view. That would make Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson proud.

      I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

      by Homer177 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:37:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I so love Thomas Paine! (6+ / 0-)

        He was a true revolutionary and fought for the common man and woman. Likely the reason that most of the founding fathers, except for Jefferson, shunned him. He scared the liver out of them!

        We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

        by occupystephanie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:39:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately most of the founders.... (4+ / 0-)

          Most of them were plutocratic bastards with no regard for the common person. Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Madison and Jay were the worst in that regard. That's why there were many rebellions against their rule before the constitution was ratified.

          Had it been up to them, there'd be no bill of rights in the constitution, and sadly even with that human rights aren't protected all that well as American History shows us again and again.

          I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

          by Homer177 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:45:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You are so right on the many systemic problems (0+ / 0-)

      contributing to large, huge really, numbers of persons living in poverty! Myself among them.

      One problem not paid much attention is the nearly universal (?) use of economic shunning in employment by use of background checks that damn anyone from further employment who has had the unfortunate experience of not being able to pay bills for whatever reason (health crises, loss of job, etc.).

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:31:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Add me... (7+ / 0-)

    to the Kossacks who love your title.

    I was as unaware as anyone when Occupy happened until we engaged those who were houseless. I have many friends now who live outside.

    My special interest is helping those who provide a home for dogs and cats but do not have shelter. Their pets are often their best friends and they share their food and coats with them. We are experiencing families on the streets more and more, and families have pets.

    I organized a Street Dogs and Cats Care Fair in our town which is in its second year. We re lucky to have a Vet school here with students interested in Shelter Medicine. We hold these fairs twice a year and provide shots, flea control and other services. We get a grant from the Pets of the Homeless.

    I serve our traditional chili and also run a Free Store of pet supplies, getting donations but usually from goods I buy at thrift stores over the year. It is a very social event.

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:37:32 AM PST

    •  That is excellent (5+ / 0-)

      The year we did KINship, we had at least one donor specify that her hundreds of dollars go toward helping people with pet needs.

      I initially thought this was kind of silly, but then I saw that several people had said, effectively, "I'm okay, but my [pet] could use [this stuff]." All food or medicine.

      I think we were ahead $10 on pet needs by the end, with other folks contributing small but meaningful chunks of change.

      "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
      "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

      by iampunha on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:21:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As one who cannot afford vet care, I truly (0+ / 0-)

      appreciate what you are doing. We have a similar type of company though that comes and does clinics where it is fee for service and you do not have to pay a whole "office visit" fee which is prohibitive. It's the only way Pogo could get his rabies shot.

      Many people who like myself are poor, would probably choose to stay at home with their pet during a disaster rather than face losing their dear friend and companion. So I really feel for those people who are homeless with pets. Thanks for what you do for them.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:36:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. My wife and I spent X-mas day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bigjacbigjacbigjac, Gorette

    volunteering feeding people that are homeless.  We spent the day paying attention to them.  We were struck by the appreciation in their eyes and their expressions of gratitude.  
    Our city discourages giving to panhandlers so I don't do that.  I don't want to contribute to addictions.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:22:43 PM PST

    •  Someone, who sits at the entrances (4+ / 0-)

      of stores, some holding a sign, are they are all addicts?

      I would rather think among the many people I pass by every day who beg for money, not all are homeless and those are also not addicts.

      So, I don't feel so comfortable with your comment. And cities also discourage to give food to the people who are either hungry and homeless or hungry and not homeless in fast food restaurants.

      What a glorious idea, right? /snark

      •  I just choose to give to people that are homeless (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, bigjacbigjacbigjac

        in other ways (food banks, direct food aid).  I just read an article in the liberal poor advocacy paper here called Real Change where a panhandler was making $300.00 a day.  For the most part the people that run the shelters and food banks support the don't give to panhandlers policy.  It funnels people into the arms of the social services network.  

        If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

        by John Crapper on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:24:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They must be great panhandlers, (0+ / 0-)

          if they can make $300 a day.

          Not sure where you found that info John; or what City they're talking about, but I think that's a r-wing story.

          IMO, a good panhandler might make $50 if they spend many hours (all day), at it. But I can't see them getting any more than that, if that much. I estimate about $5 an hr.

          Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

          by rebel ga on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:05:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  $300 a day (0+ / 0-)

            is from here, among other sources.

            I doubt a nontrivial percent of people who are homeless and must beg for money in public get $300 a day.

            "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
            "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

            by iampunha on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 09:00:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  We have one who is almost daily near (0+ / 0-)

            the entrance of our office. Several of my colleagues engaged him in conversations. He is not disabled and he has always clean socks and clean clothings. I am not sure if he makes $300.00 a day (I seriously would doubt that), but pan handling is his well organized business. He makes enough to continue what he is doing. And who am I to judge his "business ethics". I think there are bigger fishs to fry for something like that. We had also made stories about another homeless person, who was an excellent chess player. All I can tell you, there is not one person, who is involved producing news stories about homeless persons, who doesn't feel that it's the worst task to have. There is no way around the fact, that you "use" the "misery of another person" to  "get the story out".

            We have others people, who are homeless, coming and going. We have a Starbucks nearby our office entrance. I have not seen any of them inside the Starbucks, but they wait at the entrance in the hope someone who can afford to pay $5 for a coffee, might have $1 for him as well. Very few have usually.

            There are so many different people on the streets in all sorts of different conditions that any general judgement, imo, is not justified.

            Usually you can "see" if someone really needs something immediately and is hungry or not. And to me I don't care, why the person is in the situation he is in and why he is out there in the cold, as we would say:  A "kalts arschl" is a "kalts arschl" and I don't care if it's a black, white, brown, addicted, transgender or any other sort of arschl, a "kalts arschl" is something NOONE should have.

            If I give something, most often I feel not good about it, usually I am mad inside, because I hate that giving some dollars or something is supposedly "the solution to the problem". I am angry that this should be my only option I seem to have most of the time. I give, but completely inconsistently and just relate to my guts feelings about the person, who is sitting on the streets. If you look into their eyes, you usually can "see" enough to make up your mind, if you should stop and give or pass by. But who looks into their eyes? It's quite a job to NOT look into their eyes. And people invest some mental energy to NOT look.

            Giving food in an organized manner to a food bank is something else, imo, but still, all of it, is NO solution to end homelessness, imo.

            I would never discourage someone to give, but I also would never put "emotional" pressure on people, who don't give. Personal giving is a personal decision and I don't feel that anybody should judge some other person for what he/she decides to do, when passing by a person, who is homeless, or let's say it in some warm German dialect, people, who have the feeling that in their lives "Oi is dahi".

            •  Misery (0+ / 0-)

              I worked five and a half years in newspapers and could go on at some length about this:

              "There is no way around the fact, that you "use" the "misery of another person" to  "get the story out"."

              in short, I have absolutely used misery to sell newspapers.

              "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
              "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

              by iampunha on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 09:25:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am not sure I understand your comment (0+ / 0-)

                is it snark or how do I have to interpret your last sentence?

                I hope you didn't misunderstand what I tried to express. May be you try to clarify for me your last sentence ?
                Thanks.

                In case I didn't get your comment right and you are someone who has written about people who are homeless and ways to get engaged in changing their living conditions,  I am in no way against writing those stories.

                It's a different thing to make a news clip and a video. I was talking about producing a personalized story about a specific person, who is homeless and experiences misery in his life.

                Since technology allows many people to produce documentary style videos and post them, I just wanted to say that sometimes it's done carelessly and there is no way around for me to not also think of the other side of the equation, ie that well-to-do people in warm houses and cars, driving into the lives of persons, who don't have all of it, produce a story that is designed to get at the viewers emotions, and then ...go on to the next story and cash in their salary.  For any well done documentary there are a bunch of awful ones, especially in main stream US cable news channels.

                Anyhow I am confused. I know a person, who is homeless, from a time this person was not homeless. I see him now selliing newspapers on the middle strip of New York Ave. in Washington DC. The fact that he stands like a deer in the headlight, frozen and cold, without moving, but holding up his couple of Washington Post Newspapers he is "selling" shows me he is in a sort of program of the government that tries to offer a homeless person a "job" to helpt them get back on his/her feet to get into a housing program.

                I guess that's what confuses me right now.

                •  well, I apologize, you are obviously a writer, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  iampunha

                  I just hadn't time to go back and read your diary history.
                  So much for German Dumpkopfen. I have a hard time to understand lots of things said here and very little time as well to read thoroughly.  

                  Hope you "forgive" me... ?

                  •  :) No worries. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mimi

                    I could have been more specific.

                    I was news editor of a newspaper for 3.5 years. In that capacity, I wrote every news headline worth reading five days a week, including for the Sunday paper. Sometimes a story lent itself to a more emotional headline treatment, so I wrote accordingly, on purpose, to sell newspapers.

                    Can I help you understand anything else more clearly?

                    (Incidentally, I assessed before this that English was not your primary language. You communicate plenty clearly enough for me. The occasional mistake is what I have gotten paid to correct professionally anyway.)

                    "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
                    "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

                    by iampunha on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 03:18:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  oh thanks, you are a generous soul, I just (0+ / 0-)

                      read your "Daddy always told me, 'Do a proper job'" diary. Wow, I am getting used to your writing style ... and am sort of "jaw-dropped" by it.

                      I also happened to click on the link you posted there from OllieGarkey and the exchange in that thread made me think about how many, many questions I have that I all not ask here, because ... well I always feel so much dumber, out-dated, unfamiliar with so many issues and if I try to do my homework on those issues for a couple of hours, I still have questions. And I know, if I ask questions, even if I had tried to 'do a proper job' of trying to understand the issue, I end up sounding for too many people too much of a nuisance... and then who likes to hear something from a (white privileged) German that considers the US mores, politics and values. It's always an affront to most. So, I really don't know what I am doing here.

                      I remember I came here very early, because I was furiously upset about something and some people here seemed to be kinder than elsewhere. Then I had plenty of reasons to be upset with the Bush regime, though I hadn't anything to do with daily news on my old job. So I stayed, but only during the last three years I think I read more often here,. among others because my job in the last six yeas is news related, but very nonsensical and visually brain-freezingly overloading.  

                      Thanks for explaining and writing. I think I am the opposite of a person, who likes to write on purpose "emotionally", if I were even able to do so. Most correspondents and producers I see, get "cold" just to be able to handle their workload of reporting "emotionally upsetting news". And it's hard to know what they really think about an issue, all covered up behind the coolneess and sarcasm they develop on the job on top of being competitive amongst each other.

                      Sigh, what am I talking about here? Gotta go to bed and sleep.

    •  I tried to give once. (6+ / 0-)

      That story will go in today's diary, now't I think about it.

      Forgetting safety concerns, though, I can do more with $1 than can most people who are homeless. I've turned $1 into five pounds of rice. That'll give more warmth than whatever off the dollar menu, and it's actual food. So I give to food banks because I can do more that way.

      On the notion that people who are panhandlers necessarily have addictions, I will point out that when my family was reunited with my uncle who was homeless, he had no addictions. Never did, far as I know. He wasn't self-medicating for PTSD, for example. For those who are, I don't know that it's as simple as saying you don't want to contribute to addictions. That war-caused PTSD comes from Defense Department funds, which are tax dollars, after all. The better thought and effort might be to help support the network trying to help people who are homeless to solve their own problems.

      A friend who was homeless for some months after he was disowned for being gay said the biggest thing for him was nobody looked him in the eye. That's stuck with me for more than a decade, and I doubt you'll soon forget it.

      "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
      "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

      by iampunha on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:50:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  bravo for this excellent diary (4+ / 0-)

    framing and phrasing are crucial

    "Some of you are going to die... martyrs, of course, to the Freedom that I will provide!"

    by emperor nobody on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 04:18:53 PM PST

  •  Occupy STL failure (3+ / 0-)

    OSTL (St. Louis) was more than happy to take advantage of the downtown homeless population.  They got food and sometimes shelter in exchange for doing safety, welcome table, trash duty and any other thankless and "not on the news" types of things.  Our Occupy was rolled up on Veteran's Day 2011.  The kids and "fully funded organizers" were more than willing to go to jail "for their rights" etc.  They were also going to leave the 47 people, who were either homeless to begin with or became homeless during the occupation, to fend for themselves!  Then came the 5 women and 2 men, all middle aged or above who couldn't stomach the thought.  This was Not how we were taught to be activists.  We were taught not to leave anyone behind.  It took some doing, but we found a warehouse where they could house themselves and then we all pledged to provide one hot meal a week to that location.  NONE of us had jack shit to spare, but we did it.  We also networked with social services and churches etc. to pick up what we couldn't.  They all came through the winter and by summer of 2012, all but 3 of them were in housing, rehab, got jobs or disability etc.  Yeah, 7 people did that, so dear reader, what's YOUR excuse?

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:16:47 PM PST

  •  People-first language (4+ / 0-)

    The groups I hang with use it some of the time. For example, I prefer and use "person with diabetes" to "diabetic" because we are not our condition. However, when the choice is between active and passive, I and many in the other group I hang with a lot, people with kidney issues, go for active. For example, the phrase "dialysis patients" or "kidney patients" is passive; we are people to whom something is done, on whom some operation or procedure is performed without our agency. When I was on dialysis, as now, I prefer the term "dialyzor", which I believe was coined by Bill Peckham, a prominent dialyzor in the Seattle area. That term gives people on dialysis agency.

    I don't know what to call myself now. I'm still and will always be a kidney patient. I'm still a person with ESRD. I am also a person with a kidney transplant, and "transplant recipient" tends to be my go-to phrase. How do I take back agency from that? Got any ideas? I'd love to hear them.

  •  This is a wonderful diary. You write so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iampunha

    well. You make your points very clearly and persuasively.

    Thanks very much for your diary here. I am in full agreement.

    Of course, the same applies to the concept of the hungry.

    The government changed the appellation to "food insecurity" which could be for animals, or other nations, for all we know. They, too, should have stuck to "persons" or "people" who are going hungry. People without enough food and nutrition, children who go to bed hungry and moms who starve themselves in order to have enough for their children to eat. Maybe you have also written about this.

    KEEP WRITING on poverty, please. I am one in that category, but only in last decade after health problems kept me from working. Early in my life though, I was so aware of this problem  of people's not wanting to see poverty, the face of it, the reality and details. Living on the west side of Cleveland, I would hear references to the "slums" on the east side. But you never ever saw it on the news. Not until in my 20's when I purposely was able to drive over there did I see what was meant by this. And I was heartsick to see it, let me tell you.

    So when you say this:

    We are not expected to care about people we don't know -- people we rarely look at.
    my emphasis
    it is very familiar to my thinking. And it is not just their eyes, their faces, their person, but their whole lives, that we wish to ignore, as a nation, as a people, as politicians, and as a government.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 08:14:54 AM PST

    •  "KEEP WRITING on poverty, please." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette

      Tonight's is not on poverty, but I have at least another in me.

      I have written here and there, in other kinds of diaries, about people who don't have enough nutrients -- because 20 bags of potato chips should not be confused with a healthy diet.

      I believe the people in power dedicated to keeping those people eating poorly know they would lose their power if those people ate better. Poor diets cause a host of problems, from neurological to muscular to lifespan. Voting becomes less of a priority.

      "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.
      "Please know that I accept you and yours with no need for explanation of [any] kind." -Translator

      by iampunha on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:33:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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