29 December 2010


A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. - Mohandas Gandhi



1. a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

It is rather difficult for me to even begin putting this particular blog into articulate terms. Remember this guy?

Backstory: There is a place called Tent City. It is a place where the homeless are home. There has been quite a controversy in the "It's Your Call" section of our newspaper. People in the area use this to give their opinion on various matters, kind of like the Letter to the Editor, but more immediate. Several of the "callers" have expressed their dislike for Tent City and its inhabitants. 

Many believe they do indeed have a place to go and just choose to be on the street. Some of these testimonials, if not most, are second hand. Many of the quotes in the actual news articles are full of the -oh no be scared of them, they're all mentally ill, drunk and high.- I'm too lazy to provide direct links. Just go rummage around http://www.newspressnow.com/index.html

Recently some of my fellow elder college students decided it would be a good idea to show some compassion and come up with ways to help these folks out, you know, since they're sleeping in tents on the ground when it's really cold. This is one response they got:
Please be aware that all all of the residents of tent city are there primarily by choice. I work on the mental health unit at [redacted] and see these people when they have blood alcohol levels of 500 and above or have are strung out on meth. etc. My husband is the case manager for the H.O.M.E. unit which provides medical care and case management services to the homeless. Contrary to the impression that the Newspaper gives, these people have been offered placement and services. They choose to stay at tent city because they can continue to indulge their addictions and not try to look for work. I know this sounds harsh, but most of what you give will be sold or bartered for the drug of their choice. . . . Don't get caught up in the drama incited by the newspaper articles. If you really want to help, contact the Social Welfare Board. This organization distriubutes tents, coats, clothing, bus passes, medical and dental services to the homeless. Do not, I repeat, do not go out on your own and give to this population. You will only be enabling them in their addictions and contribute to the already staggering rates of violence we are seeing at tent city.

Again, if you want to help, contribute to the Social Welfare Board or the Salvation Army. [sic]
I understand that many homeless people are suffering from one mental illness or another and they have a high rate of drug usage. I cannot understand how people can be so unsympathetic to another person's plight.

Have they been so blessed with such an awesome life and noble birth that they believe themselves immune to possibly being in the homeless or mentally ill's position?

I consider myself a nice person deep inside the soul. I also consider myself rather intelligent and compassionate. I myself have had one hell of a row to hoe, like these homeless people.

Logically speaking the anti's make little sense:

What person seriously chooses to be homeless? Do they wake up one day and say to themselves "Oh, well, I'm tired of living in this doublewide that keeps the rain off of my head, has a place to cook, keeps me warm and keeps me safe?"

Second, Tent City is by the Missouri River. We should all know by the 4th grade what a body of water does to the temperature in its vicinity.

Third, many homeless have drug and alcohol problems. Why do they have addictions?

I'm pretty sure addictions don't start themselves. Generally something pushes them to self medicate. If they're self medicating then they need true help from the systems that keep failing them. And quite honestly, if my big white behind were sleeping in Tent City I would want to be as stoned and drunk as I possibly could every possible second just to forget where I'm at.

Fourth, they're all mentally ill. Duh. Generally people that can function better in the real world do not end up sleeping on a park bench somewhere. Mental illness also leads back to drug and alcohol problems above.

And since we're on the subject of mentally ill homeless: Fix the mental health system. Fix the prescriptions system. Add beds to psych wards. Build a new psych hospital, even if it only holds 100 people. Build new shelters with in-house psychiatrists and counselors.

DO SOMETHING besides sit in your comfortable armchair complaining about Tent City bringing down property values. These scumbags are humans like you, only they probably have compassion for other people.

A great amount of the homeless population in this country is mentally ill. I see that myself. I acknowledge that. Many are ex-cons that thrived well in prison, but can't make it on the streets. I honestly probably couldn't make it on the streets without the help of friends and family at this point in my life.

These people need to be in an environment which almost babysits them when it comes to their medicine and psychotherapy. Several do good for a few days, and like most of us that are mentally unbalanced, stop taking their meds when they start feeling better, starting the vicious cycle again.

Then again, in this part of the country it is far more noble to help the old lady with the recently burned down house than it is to help someone who falls through every crack in every system, let alone try to fix the system. God forbid we have a 1 cent sales tax to help some of these people out.

I'll leave with one more quote from the great Gandhi: 
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”


  1. The "halfway house" concept has been applied to the mentally ill with great success; a nurse on staff dispenses medications, helps them arrange for communal meals, and reminds them about hygiene issues.

    Problems started to enter this sort of situation when governments thought these people should somehow re-enter the workforce; instead the argument should have been "this is cheaper than having them hospitalized."

    Some - a very few - of the chronically severely mentally ill can and do reenter the workforce. Hell, I wouldn't be in college if I didn't believe that to the bottom of my soul. But they aren't suitable for a greeter or checker at Wal-Mart or any customer-facing position. And a position where they might hurt someone carelessly is not a good idea, either.

    Sorry, I'm rambling.
    You can make a difference by caring. It can change a person's attitude when they need hope.

  2. IO think it is important to say to our selves. If I did not have insurance and I lost my job lost my house and lost every thing I own. would I be able to make it. Due to our economy right now there are a lot of displaced families. during the summer there have been children living at tent city. People who have lost every thing also lose confidence in themsleve and have very low self esteem. This drives them to a deep and dark depression. What would you do if you lost every thing all at once. Mental illness is present in the welthy too. You do not see it in them because they canpay for their meds and health care. Drug attics well here is a news flash. There are more and more upstanding people useing perscriptions to keep them selves high. they do not put themselves in the same light as the homeless because they aren't on the streets. Drinking or being a drunk is also a medical issue. amd how many peopele out there party and get drunk. Go to a bar every weekend. Well you too might be a binge drinker. I for one would like people to step up to the plate and help me if I ever fell through the cracksand became homeless it can happen to any one.

  3. I think more needs to be done to help the hurting and homeless. Writing about it helps because it gets the issue out there and helps people realize how important it is to help others. Thanks for caring!