Scott recently introduced us to Dr. Diane Medved, the mental health professional who apparently taught Robin of Berkeley everything she knows about compassion.
Anyway, over at Dr. Diane's blog, she expressed dismay at the reception her column received.
When I posted my surprise at the number of homeless with tarp-covered mounds of stuff in Waikiki parks, many lying on the sidewalks of touristy Kalakaua Avenue, I got some nasty comments about how heartless I am. I don't want to abandon these people--I want charities or, failing that, even government to help them.
As long as Dr. Diane doesn't have to help them, because they are dirty and some of them are smelly and gross! But hey, she wants them helped because she's concerned - concerned about the loss of revenue their presence may cost the local merchants.
And anyway, we must think of the children. Think of the wealthy, high-heeled teen-aged daughters who must step over the bodies of the homeless on their way to Prada. Shouldn't we save our compassion for them?
I think the ire comes from my underlying assumption that living on the streets is unacceptable. Should the desires of a few (often) mentally ill or substance-addicted "free spirits" trump the needs of the vast majority to walk on streets unmolested, without insecurity about safety? How comfortable are you about your teen daughter, say, walking down a street at night--one lined with fine stores at that--with less-than-clean people approaching her for money, or lying in her path?
Ewww, that poor girl might get dirt on her shoes as she steps on the filthy mentally ill people! A charity should do something for her!
Should she be the one to give way for the homeless, or should keepers of public safety step in to insist the out-of-the-boxers find more suitable sleeping space?
Yes, gentle readers, should this teen-aged girl be forced to walk around these "people", or should they just be bull-dozed out of the way? YOU make the call.