Sunday, February 27, 2011

In a World of Hurt-Opportunity and Solidarity

No one likes to suffer. And some of us don't like to see others suffer. That's why I do what I do (activist for homeless families and youth). I'd have to say my friend Christi Parsons nailed it right when she said I'm someone who likes "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," (19th century Chicago humorist Finley Peter Dunne). So my abhorrence to suffering does have some caveats.

I don't know if it's just the hyper quantity (and hyping) of news we get nowadays, or if it's my hyper sensitivity to it. But it seems that globally we have an overabundance of stupidity and greed, to pick 2 most obvious characteristics. Having brushed up against those 2 un-virtues in Calhoun, GA last week, I'm still seething. 

This link will fill you in on what you need to know about the 2 legislators who allegedly caused the Oglethorpe Inn, a rundown "motel" to go belly-up pushing 80 people to the streets. Fortunately, 3 women spearheaded incredible efforts to find at least temporary housing for the displaced--families with kids and single men and women. Most people rely on government disability payments for their income, not enough to afford a regular place to live, security deposits, etc., one reason why they're in this dire situation.

The people hurt by this upheaval, in many cases, were the most vulnerable folks in Calhoun. They've been chewed up and spat out by society. Some are so broken--physically and mentally--that it hurt me to see them hurting so bad. Even their pets were hurting. It was profoundly sad to witness. Even sadder to experience firsthand.

What seems to be a positive turn, with all the protests going on in this land and across the seas, the powerless are starting to find their voices, and their shoes, and their protest signs. I hope it's not too late. Some of us have been begging people to take a stand against injustice and greed for years. We're all slow to jump on something that seems remote to us, like homelessness.

But with homelessness spreading like kudzu in urban and non-urban areas alike; with greedy bankers and mortgage lenders creating housing havoc and global economic mayhem; with employment shriveling like a baby too long in bathwater; and with union wages and benefits, health care and mental health services being slashed so budgets can be "bogus-balanced"...homelessness is getting an unwanted second look by many.

I'm not saying this is a good thing--that homelessness is now more real to more people than ever--but it does make it easier to inspire action. That's what I'm hoping, that you're willing to act. Here are 3 simple petitions (don't even need to get up!) that will collectively nudge some positive action:
  • Help bring some "hurt" to those who allegedly caused the motel to shut down. LINK
  • Get President Obama to invite me to the White House to screen our powerful new documentary, "on the edge," 7 women's stories about their homelessness. LINK 2
  • Urge Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) to focus his humorous wrath on the city leaders of Gainesville, FL so they'll lift the inane feeding limit on their soup kitchen. LINK 3 
 If this isn't enough--get out and act. Here are some suggestions:
  • Volunteer and/or support your local shelter or program that helps vulnerable families, youth and adults.
  • Collect needed items (new socks and undies are always needed) on a regular basis (don't wait for holidays, or make up your own holiday!).
  • Follow the HEAR US Compassion Epidemic page and share the call to action. 
  • Get copies of on the edge and My Own Four Walls. Watch them. Get groups to see them. 
  • Sign up for the free, no-hassle HEAR US e-newsletter, and share it with friends.
Seems to me we need to get off our collective duffs before they get kicked 6 ways to Sunday. Probably good to remember that unless you're one of the few uber-rich, a category that I'm not in, you're in danger of the things you most fear. There. Feel better now? I just shared the affliction!

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