Giving the Homeless a Hand

'The future will be different if we make the present different'

Last week I visited a homeless encampment. Ted Hayes, a veteran advocate for the homeless in Los Angeles, gave me a friendly walk-through tour. Located close to Venice Beach, the camp was clean and orderly. Ted had invited candidates in California’s upcoming primary election to speak briefly to the question of what we could do, then and there, to give these homeless folks a hand. After a good deal of brainstorming, I came up with what follows. The response? Some applause, no boos! Probably better than I deserved.

“I’m Jim Hanink, and I live in Inglewood. I’m the gubernatorial candidate of the American Solidarity Party. It’s a party that confounds the establishment and those who want to grab its power for themselves. I’ve been charged with saying what I’m going to do now for the homeless, especially here, and not what I’m going to do as governor. Well, I’m not going to be governor and for three reasons: In the recall I had $6,000 to spend and Mr. Newsom had $75 million. I’m not a capitalist; I believe in economic democracy. I advocate worker/employee ownership. I’m prolife for the whole of life, and that includes preborn babies.

So, here’s what I’m going to do today: First, I thank Ted Hayes for organizing this event and reminding us of the cruel history of homelessness. You are part of it. Second, I am seeing you. And I’m wondering if my youngest son is out there among you. I’d like your thoughts on how I can better help him. Third, I want you to know that you should fight to stay alive. Meth kills. So does Fentanyl. Whether addicted or not, let’s all advocate for the swift and severe punishment of meth producers and distributors. Seize their assets. Find creative ways to brand them.”

I’ll be doing these same things tomorrow!

The next day I called the local councilman’s office and the local Catholic Charities center to enlist help in getting portable toilets for the people living in the encampment. That’s their greatest short-term need. So far, I haven’t heard back. If, say, 500 people called, well, things might change.

As Peter Maurin, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, liked to say, “The future will be different if we make the present different.”

 

Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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