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The Cost of Homelessness

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Well, it has been a tense weekend of wildfire in this neck of the woods.  But it rained last night, is overcast this morning, temperatures are way down and it looks like the fire is well on the way to under control.  While this disaster remains a pittance compared to southeast Texas (please help), it is rather close to home and therefore highly present in the mind.  The question that always comes up in situations like this is “How did it start?” The correct answer is “We’ll never know.”  That’s true, in a fire this large and destructive, there is almost no way to know for sure.  But there sure are rumors around the neighborhood.

Before I go any further, I have no substantiation for this, so please don’t mistake this for reporting.  Everybody in the neighborhood knows that in the area where the fire started there is a homeless encampment.  Can’t be seen from the highway or the road on the downhill side, but everybody knows it’s there.  If you are around the area you see people coming in and out all the time.  Sure is suspicious, wouldn’t you say?

Similarly, a little over 60 days ago there was a house fire in the neighborhood.  I was out of town and the press is largely silent on the matter, but it happened just up the slope from a different homeless camp, this one in the wild area between the freeway and the house – meant to be a noise barrier.  Interestingly, the burn pattern from this fire includes where the camp used to be and up the hill to the house.  Curioser and curioser.

Los Angeles City and County are quite liberal in their dealings with the homeless – as these stories should make plain.  They are such out of “compassion.”  And of course, the homeless do deserve our compassion, but I ask you, is the current situation really compassionate?  There are strong indications of these “compassionate” enclaves being the origin of massive property damage – massive.  The house fire is one thing, but this wildfire, the disruption, the discomfort and the thousands of acres destroyed, wildlife killed or roaming the streets – sure seems like the compassion involved is rather costly.

Simply put, it is a lie that acceptance is love.  We have come to think that it is loving to let someone camp in such areas if they want to – even if they are mentally ill.  But look at the cost!  Being compassionate to them as ended up in hundreds and hundreds more now needing compassion – people that were perfectly capable of caring for themselves.  When acceptance of the few destroys the very fabric of life of the many is it loving or just indulgent?

I could go on for a long time about the policy and enforcement issues involved here, about policy priorities, the mental health system, government forcing charity to the sidelines and on and on and on.  All of that is worthy discussion – but to hide all of that behind a veneer and label it “compassion” is just evil.  Evil not because of the damage caused, but because it distorts our understanding of what is really good.  People start to buy into these lies.

If nothing else, I pray that all this destruction can help us once again find what is good and quit lying to ourselves.


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