We All Need Help Sometimes

The recent “Don’t Feed Our Homeless” campaign in Ocean Beach is grossly misdirected and seriously lacking in human compassion. While a gimmicky bumper sticker (reminiscent of the National Park Service campaign) is somewhat comical, the ramifications of a viewpoint this shortsighted are anything but funny.

Aesthetically, the homeless are not a desirable part of any community, but to effectively turn our backs on a segment of society so obviously in need of charity and kindness is cowardly and selfish. The homeless population is a people down on their luck, many at rock bottom, most forgotten and neglected. Some are physically or mentally disabled, many are veterans of American Wars, and others are victims of an inadequate U.S. foster care system or an abusive home. Sure, some are delinquent teenagers feeling rebellious and adventurous, but to refuse to help this minority class of homeless is to refuse to help them all.
Aside from the callous nature of this campaign, it is obviously a short-term fix for what promises to be a long-term problem. The notion behind “Don’t Feed Our Homeless” is shallow and sends a message we don’t want future generations to embrace: Rather than find a solution to a problem, make it someone else’s. My parents always taught me that part of being an adult was taking responsibility when it was due and stepping up when the circumstances warranted it. These basic ideas are clearly absent in the current approach to homelessness in Ocean Beach. A society that actively refuses to help its most downtrodden members is not one that I am proud to be a part of.

Beyond the obvious moral flaws of anti-homelessness bumper stickers, to actually believe that the campaign will work is seriously delusional. The homeless are a resilient bunch—a bunch of yuppies wasting money on silly matching t-shirts will likely have very little actual effect on them. A bum in Pacific Beach (yes, they live here, too) recently had a sign that read, “We all need help sometimes.” This couldn’t be truer. I gave him a dollar.

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