Fight for the homeless

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

— Aldous Huxley

By Christina Rose

I am overwhelmed with the ongoing topic of homelessness in the Okanagan.

I am even more overwhelmed by our city’s seemingly lack of humanity. 

As a single mother of one, I am not immune to the struggles of daily life, and I am not writing this article as a pat on the back, or congratulations for being a decent human being.

I do believe though that somewhere along the way mankind has lost its way when it comes to the treatment of other human beings. I just went downtown with coffee, soup, donuts and muffins to give to those camping in the Recreation Avenue area.

I met a few people, not just from the Okanagan, and chatted about all kinds of different things, as I would with any of my friends. I met a young man named Sam, who joked as I helped him carry food to his tent about how I should keep a certain distance so his GF doesn’t get jealous.

I made the quip about how our situation doesn’t seem to have an effect on our emotions.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads, food on the table and the ability to enjoy certain pleasures I think have forgotten the struggles that face many in not just our community, but all over the world.

On the way home, my significant other raised his concerns about the safety aspect of my social engagement this evening, and in hindsight I suppose he is not wrong.

The drug-and-violence situation in Kelowna is significant. However, I cannot help but believe that while there are many who choose this way of life, that is not true of all individuals, and does not make them bad people.

In fact, homeless and drugs seem to go hand in hand.

Most recently, my annoyance with the people of Kelowna, and desire to provide so form of relief, has come from the complaints of those about the homeless setting up camps in the Recreation and Knox Mountain areas.

Have we forgotten that these people are human beings? Are we that concerned about the value of our property, that we are willing to go out and protest these peoples very existence there?

If as much time was spent helping and trying to find a solution as it was protesting, perhaps we might begin to see a difference.

I know what people will think. I don’t live in the area; it doesn’t affect me. Well, I live in Rutland, where most of the city’s wet houses are.

My daughter goes to school here and encounters these things on a daily basis, so I am not immune to the concerns that are raised by people. But along with being cautious, I teach my daughter to be caring, respectful and kind to those less fortunate.

Whether people are on the street by choice, or unforeseen circumstance, it doesn’t make them less entitled to be treated with kindness.

We cannot ignore the fact that homelessness is an issue here. We also cannot ignore the fact that they are people deserving of our kindness, of our help, of basic human decency.

Instead of fighting for them to be away from our property, we could fight to make a difference.

We could fight for their right for food and shelter.

We could fight for their right to be treated like people who matter.

In a season of overspending and overindulgence, it would be nice to remember that being kind and thoughtful to others costs $0.

Instead of spending our efforts fighting for them not to be somewhere, we could fight for them to have a place to be.

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