Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day Three: the Politics of Homelessness

Today is Election Day. I know, because a homeless man yelled at everyone lined up for breakfast in the food lines.

On social media people are clamoring about the lines at their polling place. The photo above is of a food line that stretches more than three blocks. The participants waited more than forty minutes for these trays.

How long would you wait for three teaspoons of eggs, watery malt-o-meal and a moldy piece of bread? How long do you think hundreds of others who are primarily surviving off disability benefits ought to wait?

The reductions to disability benefits are something you vote for when you approve elected officials and their plans for creating a budget.

Voting, may let you choose between a candidate who will hose down the homeless at night while they sleep, or let them sleep in peace. At least that's one difference I see between Newsom's administration and Ed Lee's. There is a lot less of the needless shuffling around of homeless folks. But, there is also a lot more public drinking and drugging. By which I mean, that in past street retreats people at least attempted to hide it.

The man in front of me had the Ten Commandments written on his jacket. Well, he kind of did. Commandments 7-9 were etc, etc, etc. And the tenth was: only marry 1 nut, not two.

I wonder if our desire to resolve domestic poverty issues is a lot like his jacket. We start off strong and really want to help, but we get a little tired and hope our etc, etc, etc while help. We need creative approaches that will make a real difference and most importantly our tenth commandment for helping the homeless (well perhaps it should be the first) should be compassionate mental health care.

Last night I found this art installation at UN plaza: four mirrors with a bible at the center. If we, our congregations, our cities and our elected officials took a deep look into those mirrors could we say we're doing everything our faith requires to respond to homelessness and hunger? If you answered yes, I'd ask you why there are two homeless children under the age of two behind the art, if we are doing everything we can?

So this Election Day, I hope you will vote.

Then continue voting everyday, by working to end poverty, holding those elected officials to account for addressing poverty issues and vote with your donations to organizations who can make a real difference.

And, as I will do everyday of this street retreat I'll beg you, if you are able, make a secure online donation to Welcome, or participate in our reverse auction.

Today I pray that all individuals elected today will understand their responsibility and obligation to support those who are most vulnerable.

Pastor Megan

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