Categorized | Local, Opinion

The Unfortunate Aren’t Going Away

 

By Gerald Olesen
for the Humboldt Sentinel

 

I pray each day for the homeless, the aimless, the mentally ill, the laid-off and the evicted, the overworked, the underpaid, the undereducated and the prisoners, all of whom I have met at some time in my life.

I am a Humboldt County native who lived in Eureka from 1943-1950.  For the years 1949 and 1950, I worked for Eureka
Newspapers, selling the evening paper (The Standard) on the
streets.

In those days, no one EVER warned us (there were around 20 street sellers) of any dangers in any of the areas we worked, which included the “north of fourth” area, including every bar and card room in the area.  I do not recall any of us boys (yes, kids were doing that work in those days), who were usually 10-13 years old, ever being troubled by anyone on those “mean streets.”  Yes, there were some men who were drunken derelicts around, but they did no harm, except to themselves.

What has happened to Eureka?  As I see it, the advent of available drugs, the aftermaths of the Vietnam and later wars we have been involved in, and the closing of mental facilities, have changed our society and left us with many mentally ill and drug-laced people who are seen all over town.  Some of these have self-inflicted problems and others are simply victims of circumstances their minds would not tolerate, who were turned out upon the streets to live as best they could.  Whatever the cause of their troubles, they are REAL and are simply not going away and we who are unaffected should do what we can to ease their pain.

I have been retired for many years and have worked at the St. Joseph Pantry Shelf in Fortuna for a long time and have seen many of folks who, for whatever reason, are in need and we do what we can to give them a bit of food.  In our sort of business, judgments are best left to others (preferably God).  If one becomes too judgmental, one would probably not help.  I think the situation is pretty well summed up by this:  If you have two shirts, one belongs to you and the other to the person who has none.

This is a thorny issue and any of us will, at times, wonder if we are enabling such people to continue their lifestyle.  No doubt there are abusers, as there are in any human endeavor.  It is said that we should teach a man to fish, instead of merely giving him a fish.  That makes sense, as far as it goes, but if the man is hungry today, we need to, first, give him something to eat and then think about fishing lessons.  We who do this work will be called “do-gooders” by some and that is o.k., because that is exactly what we are attempting to do, some good.

In the recent article regarding the homeless day center that has been proposed by Betty Chinn and Catholic Charities (”Opening a door for those in need,” Times-Standard, Oct. 26, Page A1), those who are complaining would seem to be folks who have been fortunate to have received a rather large slice of the “stuff” of this life.

I do not doubt that they worked very hard to amass whatever they have, but to withhold aid from our brothers who have fallen upon hard times, regardless of the cause, comes off as a bit selfish.

Yes, some folks can be very thoughtless and destructive and we certainly wish they would do better, but they are still members of our imperfect human race and we should do whatever we can to help them and, if possible, change the course of their lives.  I think Betty Chinn and Catholic Charities are trying to do just that in the best way they know how.  We should support their efforts.

I believe in this, from Luke 12:48: Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required.

* * * * * * * *

Gerald Olesen resides in Fortuna. He kindly gave us his permission to reprint his letter which first appeared in the Times-Standard news on November 4, 2012.

We read much material and many letters in the course of our day.  This one hit both the mark and struck home.

Thank you, Mr. Olesen.

(Images by the Humboldt Sentinel.  Posted by Skippy Massey)

One Response to “The Unfortunate Aren’t Going Away”

  1. Nicholas says:

    From an Ayn Rand POV. No one is under any obligation to help anyone. However, a strong community of people who are compassionate and benevolent towards each other reduces societal problems such as crime. Whether you choose a WWJD attitude or the Objectivist attitude, helping others get back up on their feet is just a good thing to do. I trully hope Eureka stops trying to follow Arcata’s Homeless Playbook and actually starts helping these people.

    Also, the one thing that the homeless need the most is self-esteem. Most have given up and need to rediscover a purpose and regain pride (a pillar of self-esteem) in themselves!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Rand Paul compared national healthcare to slavery
    Rand Paul, 2011 - With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who […]
  • Dublin today
     Karl […]
  • Word
    Des Wilson - The Church of England has decided that bishops can have civil partnerships provided they do not actually have sex together. I propose: l) people can go to restaurants - but only if they do not eat 2) people can get in to swimming pools provided they don't get wet 3) people can go to church provided they don't listen to a word they […]
  • Another banker found dead
    There have been scores of bankers who have committed suicide or found dead under uncertain circumstances in the last few years. Here's the latest:Bloomberg -  Murray Abbott, an institutional sales trader at Morgan Stanley in Toronto who had been missing since April 25, was found Monday by the shore of Lake Ontario near the city’s Beaches neighborhood wh […]
  • Ireland approves same sex marriage
    CNN - Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote on Saturday... With votes tallied from nearly all of Ireland's 43 parliamentary constituencies, the measure will sail through with more than 60% of voters approving, according to official results...More than 1.8 million Irish voters participated in t […]
  • How TPP could affect freedom of speech
    Hundreds of tech companies and digital rights groups havesigned a letter to Congress that outlines some of the freedom of speech issues in TPP. Excerpt: • Threats to Fair Use: The TPP contains language that could prevent countries from expanding exceptions and limitations to copyright. The Fast Track Bill also contains nothing to promote balance in copyright […]
  • Kansas rips off poor people's money for banks
    Vox - Kansas Republicans have put forward a new policy initiative that's almost shocking in its clear intent to harm the interests of poor people. The provision, which takes effect July 1, will ban welfare recipients from taking out more than $25 in benefits a day from an ATM....As the Washington Post's Max Ehrenfreund explains, this places a massi […]
  • The renaissance of student activism
    The Atlantic […]
  • Thought for today
    Adam and Eve had belly buttons in all their depictions - So Bad So Good […]
  • Motocycle gangs ties to military, FBI, Homeland Security revealed
    Nuclear power plant technicians, senior military officers, FBI contractors and an employee of “a highly-secretive Department of Defense agency” with a Top Secret clearance. Those are just a few of the more than 100 people with sensitive military and government connections that law enforcement is tracking because they are linked to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”I […]
  • Links: Transportation
    Transportation news Bike news High speed, high cost, high income rail What roads and rails tell us about class and power […]
  • Word
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man -- GB Shaw […]
  • How the Me Generation approaches major foreign policy matters
    "Look, 20 years from now, I'm still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it's my name on this. I think it's fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down." - Barack ObamaThe old alchemical dream was changing base metals into gold. Th […]
  • Notes from the liberal intensive care unit
    Listening to panelists on the Steve Kornaki show making snide comments about Bernie Sanders was a helpful reminder of why liberalism is still in the intensive care unit. One panelist suggested that Sanders' supporters didn't really know where he stood on issues, implying that the senator had bizarre positions. In fact, Sanders would have been part […]
  • Towards better policing
    An ACLU manual for dealing with police abuse in your community […]