I was recently driving home when Nat, my housemate, rang to say we needed a few things and could I pick them up on the way because she had forgotten to. I made a detour to call off at a local store. It is getting pretty cold over here at the moment and so I had to don my coat for the thirty second walk to the store from where I had parked. Sitting on the sidewalk outside the store is a homeless guy with about six coats wrapped around him begging for money. I make it a habit not to give to street beggars in case I am supporting the local drug dealers but this guy looked in a pretty bad way. I was going into the store, so I asked him if there was anything he wanted.
He immediately dispelled all my worries about him being a user by telling me that a sandwich would go down great.
I picked up the few things Nat had asked me to bring home and a sandwich for sidewalk guy. The store had a Costa Coffee vending machine so I bought him one hoping that would warm him up for a short while. On the way back to the car I was feeling pretty smug with myself for the little favour I had done for the guy. That is when I started thinking about politics.
In this day and age – with all the money the western world has – why do we have people sitting on the streets begging for food? It actually made me quite angry thinking about it. If that is the best we can do then the world is already down the shitter. My mood wasn’t lightened by the news that night telling me that four homeless people had died in the Chinatown area of New York City that day and that one of them had been living down a manhole – no one knew who he was and no one turned up to identify the body. Another homeless guy was beaten to death by a bunch of rich kids because they thought it would be a fun thing to do only a couple of days later.
What are the politicians doing about this situation? They are employing more mental-health outreach workers – wow, excuse me while I act a little underwhelmed about that response.
I made another detour the next night to see if sidewalk guy was still there, but he had disappeared.
You guys in the UK have an election coming up while ours is due next year. Maybe we should be asking the politicians standing for these elections a few questions?