Posts tagged Catholic Worker
Although I agree that there are “homeless” individuals in Boulder who might be regarded an eyesore,
“dangerous” when tangled with drug or alcohol abuse, the overall policies the city employs to “deal” with homelessness
are harmful to the entire community — wealthy homeowner, renter, student, or homeless person. It’s not a practical solution to the problem
of having homeless people present, to ask our law enforcers to chase them around and make sure they don’t sleep
in an inconvenient public spot.
Firstly, regardless of whether one imagines the local economy to be robust, or on the decline, or making a comeback –
statistics don’t lie: the numbers of homeless people in Boulder and in the Denver metro area continue to rise. As those numbers
have risen, the number of people on the margin has risen also — people who might be a paycheck or an unemployment check
away from being without shelter.
Asking law enforcers to “do more” — or, “clean up the problem” — is unfair. It’s unfair to the enforcers, it’s unfair to the community
of residents who see the problem growing and are paying for the enforcement strategy that continues to be a failure.
Is it a failure because law enforcement is not doing their job? No, that’s simply not the case — and in fact, it would be absurd
to negatively assess the police department for the job they are doing when people become homeless for a wide variety of reasons –
including injury or illness, job loss, or the entire variety of issues that homeless individuals have which include mental health issues
and substance abuse issues.
Peter Maurin, founder of the “Catholic Worker” movement, which established dozens of working community farms to feed the poor
in the 1930′s, wrote extensively in prose poem digest form of his belief that “What we give to the poor for Christ’s sake is what we carry with us
when we die.”
He wrote: “In the first centuries of Christianity, the hungry were fed at a personal sacrifice, the naked were clothed at a personal sacrifice,
the homeless were sheltered at a personal sacrifice. And because the poor were fed, clothed and sheltered at a personal sacrifice, the pagans
used to say about the Christians, “See how they love each other.”"
He believed that if only we expand our understanding, shift our perspective, we might get what the Pagan Greeks understood –
that “the poor are “the ambassadors of the gods”, and that to become poor is to become an Ambassador of God.
It’s sad to see the Boulder city council sit around and discuss the merits of ”camping tickets” or other measures
designed to control the behavior of ”the unwanted”, whilst all possible helpful solutions are either postponed or ignored.
I say, let’s get it together and accomplish a set of basic goals related to homelessness in our area, a problem
that needs to be addressed directly with specific actions that include creating more low-cost housing and temporary solutions
that lower the level of personal risk for people who do become homeless, and also other projects — like farms created
in the “Catholic worker” model which helped to feed thousands of people in need.
It’s not about advocacy for the homeless, it’s about honoring the basic human rights of people who do find themselves in poverty.
Rob Smoke was the chairman of the Boulder City Council Human relations committee until he talked about “girls ” on his my space page. He is a columnist for Boulder Channel 1 news