Sunday, 28 April 2013

Thought Picnic: Hard Times


The business
A family having dinner, the banquet set before them as they expressed a unity and a togetherness rarely seen, the tradition of seating together for meals.
Then with determination and purpose, they find commonality and join in a great enterprise, one that we too easily take for granted, they are friends, loyal and true, meeting at the same time in the same place to dream.
There was an opportunity that presented itself each time that I was unable to realise, to invest in their enterprise that could make a whole world of difference to many, but for the means, too meagre to stretch.
The times
All with bags filled to the brim in front of businesses that define the city, they could be taken for you and I, but they are not, they are in sleeping bags, with no shelter and have become the sign of the times.
I can see them because I have been there, when illness struck, I lost everything but friends who ensured that I did not go without shelter, food and sustenance; it was hard.
Then we assume the system is there help such people, but the one-size-fits-all package rarely fits all, it is a net with holes so large it is surprising it holds anything. The exception these people once represented in the images we once had of the homeless has changed to become a new rule - the people are well-dressed, they are families, they are clean and all they have is there in bags and suitcases, on the street.
The rut
They all have their stories that could make a trail of misfortune to the ends of the earth – unemployment, illness, divorce, debt or just pure luck – none would have deliberately charted the course of their lives to what things have become, it is called life and people live it.
I know the decisions I could not take, choices I could not make, places I could not go, ideas I could not have, opportunities that escaped me, responsibilities I could not assume, I was stuck in a rut, and it looked like there was no end to this rampaging storm.
It is never easy, there is no stop button, but if our society must have a heart that feels and the conscience to perceive, then it is duty-bound to rethink the way hard times affects people and puts them out on the streets.
The thought
As our leaders find political capital to assail the poor defining them as lazy and scrounging, we must be careful not to be fed the wrong image of realities that are so readily oblivious to us. Much that we are quick to see but fail to observe is our preoccupation with the things that concern us taking us away from appreciating what the other is going through.
I do not know the solutions to many of these problems that tug at my heartstrings, but it is not beyond the realm of human ingenuity and the extents of our humanity to find ways to ensure that sleeping bags are mainly used on camping sites under tents for leisure – homes matter to all.
Amidst all the wealth and profligacy that surrounds us, much of which we revel in; there must be means to ensure that hard times do not hit people so hard that there seems to be no other option at all.

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