I have been accused by some people of being mean to the homeless, typically by people whose experience of homelessness has been very different from what I have encountered. There are people who manage to get out of living on the streets. Usually, this applies to women, especially women with children. I write mostly about people who can more accurately be described as bums and their associated scags.
Does that sound mean? It should given my experience with garbage, poop, fights and screams in the middle of the night, vandalism, aggressive begging, theft, and stench. And this all is less than a hundred feet from my front door. Let us look at three levels of opposition to homeless encampments:
- Approach with flamethrowers and baseball bats.
- Apply political pressure to get them off the streets.
- Refuse to engage with them in conversation.
I am at level 3. When approached by a bum, usually to request a cash donation, I talk to them only in Hungarian. Ever since running into a Hungarian beggar in Vancouver, BC, I do not swear at them in Hungarian. All I want is for them to walk away looking confused.
Is this mean and heartless? Not really. I do not think much of the bums who live across the street from me. I do not sneer at them or give them any indications of opposition. If they want to talk to me, I just insist that it be in Hungarian. And I do not work with politicians on the problem, because I think they have no idea of the nature of the problem. There are just too many widely varying opinions across the entire political spectrum. Mine is just one of them, and by no means the most heartless.