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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is Something Wrong With This Picture?

On the news this morning on KCBS there was a lengthy piece on how a group of the Occupiers in the San Francisco Bay Area were having a "Knit In" and were spending the day knitting hats and scarves for the east coast occupiers.

Now that's a nice thought. It's a kind gesture...but I have a bit of a problem with it. How come they've never done this for the homeless right here in the Bay Area? Okay, okay, I don't know if individual people never did -- but I sure don't remember a knit in for them. And yes, I do realize that the occupiers on the east coast have people who are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, put food on the table and pay their medical bills, etc. Country wide they have made tremendous strides. What bothers me is the attention for something that could and in my opinion, should include those closer to home. I suppose it's one of the things that bugs me about our own government--we're so quick to send money and supplies overseas but we don't seem to ever get it together to do something for those close to home. I've never seen the problem with isolationism but then I guess that goes with being an introvert.

In the past few years I've had a number of freinds lose their jobs, their homes, have to file bankruptcy and go on other assistance. I almost lost my own home because of the mortgage meltdown and it was the sheer luck of the draw that saved my home. Bankruptcy was looking like my only option for awhile there and with the help of friends and my own wits I managed to make it without losing my home or having to file bankruptcy. When our former governor had us furloughed for almost 2 years, according to the union powers that be, almost half the membership (45,000) had either lost their homes and/or filed bankruptcy. There was one Sacbee article about one of the EDD employees who lost her home and was living in her car, taking showers in the state building where she worked - and dispensing benefits such as food stamps when she didn't qualify. Something is very wrong with that.

In the past I've participated in the "one warm coat" project here in the San Francisco Bay area. It's easy to get distracted by life and somehow a pair of new socks ends up in a pocket. You know how it is. You just forget you put them there.

Three of my friends lost their homes the past year after their husbands lost their jobs. There are public service annoucements in our area about the face of hunger and how it could well be your next door neighbor and you'd never know it. The blurb says that your neighbor may be too embarrassed to tell you they don't have money for food and they are too shaken by their change in circumstances to venture to the food bank.  

A close friend here in town had to cancel her health and dental insurance, has to go to the food bank and combs through the ads before deciding if she can afford a dozen eggs. Somehow I bought a case of cat food mine won't eat which hers happens to like -- so the food had a place to go. (No, she doesn't read my blog). I'll probably forget my cats don't like it and end up buying more of it in the next few weeks. You know how it is, you go to the store, see a case of cat food and can't remember whether or not your cats eat it so you buy it and then one of them tells you "Oh, we don't eat that". Thank goodness there's someplace for the food to go should that happen again.

I've seen more food collection bins the past few weeks than ever before -- even more than three years ago when our whole structure began to crumble. So many people have had to give up their pets that the humane society is offering deep discounts to anyone who can and will adopt.

But there is a whole segment of our population who was dealing with this a long time before. I don't begrudge the occupiers on the east coast the hand made scarves and hats. It's the news story about how wonderful the knitters are for making those hats and scarves so the east coasters can "occupy" but I'm not seeing anything about doing the same for the homeless in our area. In line with that story was how the City was looking at an abandoned hotel for the occupiers to occupy -- but they've never offered to do the same for the homeless in the area. What? They think the homeless wouldn't enjoy a hot shower and a kitchen to cook meals?

I don't know, maybe the knitters did say something about helping the homeless and it just didn't make the news story because it didn't seem like news. I wasn't there.

1 comment:

  1. I hear what you're saying, but to me, the Occupy movement is important because it's NOT looking for a bandaid solution like giving hats to the homeless. To me, the movement is saying that the country, or even the world, needs dramatic surgery, and it needs it fast.

    I'm not saying that I don't feel for the homeless, or that their poverty is in any way less or more meaningful than the poverty of others. But in terms of places to show support - I think it's time we stopped looking for ways to get by and make do under a broken system, and started looking at ways to make the system work.