Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where I start talking about a great conversation but then stumble onto my soapbox again....oops.

I had a phone conversation with Jan Hunt tonight..(the natural child project.org) It was so affirming to be speaking with some one who knows exactly where I'm coming from and has the same beliefs of children that I do, regardless if they are mine, hers or one walking down the street.
The end of our conversation left me feeling assured that I am doing it right and that when you are AP parent, a holistic parent, or any form there in; it really is about your gut. Books can say so much, but what you know to be right for you child; (and by extension, you) comes from your gut.
The came at a serendipitous time, as her call came as I was walking out of a conference my commiunity was having on the services available... a services fair of sorts. The presentations were kicked off by a woman from the salvatin army. She ran her speel about how they ring bells and where the money goes. I asked her how would someone get ahold of her should they need services.. I gave the following example: "Let's say someone comes up to me on the street and says: "I'm homeless." Where do I direct them?
Well, this was her reply:
"People who are homeless want to be homeless." My mouth drops to the floor. I looked at her and said;
"Excuse me?!" My eyes must have read volumes, because everyone got that "oh shit" look and got the "quiet" that comes with it. I looked down the table at everyone who was looking at me incredulously. They looked away.
She stumbled on about the services they offer, as I looked at the people around me...some of the women were looking at me, watching me. What they were doing was trying to read me... after all, wasn't I an Indian woman, surely I understood about poverty and homelessness.. who was I to question such a statement from a woman who worked the trenches all day everyday?

I just wish someone would have questioned my questioning this woman...I'd have LOVED to explain myself. But they never do. They will sit there and judge you, question your motives, make up stories, theories, ideas about you, but ask you directly what would motivate you to challenge someone on that statement? NO. Never. I have my own theories as to why it never gets this far.. because believe me, I'd LOVE to answer them. They, unfortunatly can't/won't offer the same to me. AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't know what it is about me exactly, because in 2005, in Vermont, at the NBF writing camp, i was detailing a story to some people about an exchange I'd had with a homeless man. They got soo irate with me, telling me I was stupid for talking to him, how much danger I'd put myself in, and how I'd better be grateful I was still alive to tell the story; that I'd better wise up and stop having such a big heart. I started crying. Literally, crying. HARD.
I was soo hurt and so upset that they could NOT see/hear what they were saying. That they had gotten to the point where they could walk away from another human being in need, and not feel a GD thing... broke my heart. I felt for the man I spoke with on the street, I felt how alone he must have been/is. Later, the two people who I had been talking to came up to me and still couldn't understand why I was so upset.
That day, we were having classes on playwriting, so we had to write a stage play. Perfect.
I wrote a performance piece on a homeless woman. I wish I had kept it, it was fabulous. My point was that I was trying to get people to see it from this woman's point of view. Which, before I go on too much on that, let me pop in the fact that I was thinking that these "services" people needed to have a mandatory inservice where they were mandated to watch the documentary "It was a wonderful life" IF you have not seen it, rent it from netflix and watch it!!!!
Anyway, back to the play. I can't remember it all, but I put things in there like: "I like classical music. My favorite color is red. I am a daughter, a sister." and in between, I was having to ask people on the street for change. It was really pwerful, because the people who were passing by ran the gamut of paying attention to me, ignoring me and looking sympathetic and helpless. My point, if you are not getting it, is that just because someone happens to be homeless doesn't mean that they deserve to be looked over. Which is what made me cry with the two people at the table... the pure coldness of it all.
whew... that was heavy. but I am affected deeply by these things. Everyone is a human being and deserves some kind of acknowledgement. (Now I say that, but if I was forced to give that very same "humane" treatment to a pedophile, child or spouse abuser, I can't honestly say I could live my own words.)
Ok..sigh....deep breath.
I realize people can become jaded in the trenches, but still to say that in a room full of proffessionals, was not only unproffessional, it was unethical.
my husband doesn't agree.
Please, cyber world, weigh in. Am I expecting too much of people, am I being ridiculous?

**In with the good air, out with the bad....in with the good air out with the bad.*

Ok, i'm Off to decompress a bti.. and I will be back for more blogginess...that is less heavy.


denise said...

I know what you mean - I am shocked time and time again at how desensitized people can be to reality. Like everyone on the planet fits into one generic stereotypical commercial soundbyte or another. Grrr.

Here is a great blog post about something very similar with a positive ending::

JenX67 said...

Two or three points I might make - first, studies show that most homeless people suffer from post trauma or mental illness. Thus, if they "choose" homelessness, it's with limited faculties, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, whatever.

Secondly, I grew up very poor. In 1978, my parents and I had no place to go. We spent a night in the Salvation Army before borrowing someone's camping trailor for a few nights, and then finding some church people who took us in for six weeks until we could get a place of our own and get on our feet. It was the summer after 5th grade. It was devastating for my mother, and the last thing she wanted. We'd been staying with a friend, when the bottom dropped out. Homelessness was NOT a choice. It was an experience in a long line of unfortunate events. My experience was thankfully brief and never repeated itself. I don't like to share it. My life is so different now. But, it's humbled me. Anyway, I understand you shock and awe at such a jack a** statement as that woman made.