The shocking news on the idiot box this morning centred on a single mother who was forced to spend a few nights sleeping in her car with her young family. Koch’nDoyle were duly (and rightly, for once) outraged at how something like this could happen in a land so rich with wealth and opportunity, but what shocks me, even more so than the original story, is that there’s still people who exist in the media who get so outraged by such an event.
Here’s a wake up call for you Koch’nDoyle, this happens every night, in every major city across this fine land. Throw a dart out into the road and you’ll find a vehicle with a family sleeping inside of it. In fact all over the world. And, to use a phrase, it’s fucked. Proper fucked.
Why is it that, in the 21st century, Governments across the globe can spend billions, if not trillions on useless conflicts designed to control the wealth that the ground can offer, dressed up in the guise of ‘fighting terrorism’ (hey, invade another country and you’re a terrorist…hmmmm), film-makers can spend millions, hundreds of millions in fact, foisting the latest crap from Kevin Costner upon us, Tiger ‘Root’ Woods is a multi-millionaire from hitting a little white ball around and chasing it, Celine Dion makes millions by impersonating a drowning cat yet no-one, and I mean no-one, has yet solved the problem of homelessness. That’s right, no-one.
Send a person off to war, send people to their deaths. That’s all fine, but people die in the streets, nightly, due to the lack of shelter and the elements, but you’ll never hear about it unless someone semi-famous finds the body and kicks up a stink, that is if the semi-famous person isn’t already complaining about the view from their million dollar apartment being ruined by homeless people*. Spend and waste money, willy nilly, but don’t help those who need the help.
I’d go out on a limb and say that the amount the Government spend in one year on the false war in Iraq could easily house every homeless person in the country. Easily. And let’s leave out the fact that in England, America and here the previous governmental leaders lied to the people, feathered their own nests and proceeded to waste trillions and managed to plunge the world economy into despair and punished the people left behind. What a glorious planet.
We are not a poor country, nor are we poor people? So who’s to blame? Plenty of people. You’re the blame, as am I. Why? Because we sit idly by and watch Koch’nDoyle and say ‘Tut tut’ like self-serving morons. We are the people are to blame for the sins of the governments because we allow it all to happen. We do nothing about it, other than waste a vote every so often and thrust out our chests and brag about a protest vote. “I’m gonna show ‘em,” said a friend at the last election, “I’m gonna vote Democrat in a protest vote.” I looked at him and said, “If you want to protest it then why not wipe your arse on the ballot paper? It’d have more effect.” He didn’t understand that. Voting for the 3rd party isn’t a protest, it's a wasted vote.
Peter Cook, far wiser than you or I will ever be, and far wittier than anyone you’ll ever meet, and probably still funnier than anyone you know, despite being dead for over a decade, once said, “Why vote? It only encourages them.” Cook was dead bang there. I’d walk past people to hear someone say, “Get a job, ya bum.” I’d think, “Fuck, one day I hope the roles are reversed.” And therein lies the biggest problem of them all. The people, you, the reader not so much, but the people you elect, have absolutely no fucking idea as to what the homeless and disadvantaged go through.
Not a brass razoo.
No fucking idea.
Seriously, they have not the slightest clue what it means to be homeless. They might grab a blanket and do a few hours in one of those patronising sleep outs (that are usually only held in warm weather), but the bulk of them are born into upper class, or upper middle class families and have never had to struggle for anything in their lives. Koch’nDoyle are amongst these, which is why they appear so horrified at the thought of someone having to sleep in a car, because the thought of it is so alien to them it’s unimaginable. You could have said, “Hey, guys, I have two penises (peni?)” and you’d not have gotten the same reaction. Politicians, like most ‘movers and shakers’ can’t relate the poor and underprivileged because they don’t understand them. Same as people who avoid work colleagues who have a breakdown. We, as a society, shun what we don’t understand or fail to comprehend.
One of the reasons why I was as good at my job as I was was because I came close to be homeless more than once. I went a few weeks eating cans of beans. I’d hang around the local deli at 9pm because the guy who ran it would hand me all the unsold pies. That was a delight for me, a definite treat. I never hit the homeless stage because I was clever enough to manipulate the system and find a place to stay, and also because I had friends who cared enough to offer me a bed, or lounge. Sure, I’d have to Deuce Bigelow myself sometimes, but that’s a small price to pay for the security of a roof overhead. So when people would come into the office they’d be faced with someone who’d left school and landed their current job and knew all about homelessness because they’d spoken to people about, read about and heard about it. Or they’d get me, who, when I’d say, “Trust me pal, I know how hard it is out there,” meant every word. I’d go out of my way to assist those who needed a leg up, which was more than a few of the privileged people, who owned two or more houses, and had all the sincerity of a hooker commenting on how large the appendage is.
Still, my approach, that of a person who’s been where the people have, isn’t what’s required. Anywhere. No-one wants a reminder in power.
So who is to blame for poverty and homelessness? Again, it’s you, the ordinary person. Not because you don’t donate money and not because you ignore the human debris that shuffles past you. It’s because you stand idly by and allow the decision makers to gain power and run the globe, and those decision makers haven’t the first idea as to what the poorer folk go through.
So when someone homeless scuttles past you on the way home from work asking for money, just remember what Midge Ure and Bob Geldof wrote, and Bono sang, as you walk past mumbling some inane excuse about having no spare change, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them and not you!” Yes, do that, as you go home, feed your pets, make your dinner and go to sleep in a nice, warm soft bed. There’s plenty out there who’s stomachs are rumbling and will sleep with a brick for a pillow. And they might not wake up tomorrow. And they're not all drug addicts and/or unemployed males.
*No, seriously, that happened here not that long ago. I kid you not. A D-Lister decided that they'd had enough of those pesky homeless people and asked the city council to move them out of his line of sight as they ruined his view, and Lord knows, he'd paid enough for that view...and it's not like he doesn't wear jeans and a t-shirt and claim that he's 'in touch with the common people', whoever the 'common people' are, other than a halfway decent Pulp song.