When Charity is Misplaced: The Outsiders Revisited

All over the country heartsick and caring people poured their hearts, souls, time and money to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Externally at least, we are an extremely generous and compassionate society. When the cause is visible enough and huge enough to warrant global attention. Then everyone from Presidents to rock stars get involved.

Yet again, the day to day Outsiders, those whose plight never seems to garner much attention, who are looked through and rarely thought about, go on struggling, day after day. These people consist of battered abused women and children, displaced seniors, the mentally ill, and worst of all our veterans. The veterans who fought so we can go about our lives enjoying the blessings they gave their hearts and bodies for. Many are disabled, and draw a check, but cannot afford to pay the deposits or meet the criteria for getting a place to live.

In Sacramento California, my home town, McClelland, a former Air Force Base, completely refurbished, and filled new places with not only furnishings, but everything needed right down to spices, for transplanted Katrina victims. The irony of this won’t be lost on many of you, I’m certain. If they could do this with extant housing for people hit by natural disaster, why hadn’t they ALREADY done this for our disabled vets???

What does it take for this country to begin treating it’s own needy in a considered humane manner? Not all disasters are global or national in impact, but at the end of the day, they erode our national character piece by piece. Most of you cannot envision how a person got to be an Outsider, and in my first article, I tried to demonstrate how easy it is for most of us to slip between the societal cracks, that are widening every year.

The class of working poor are growing, lacking health insurance, significant savings and housing. Yet everyday, they clean up in public restrooms and go to a job, no matter how menial. Often for a year or more of subsistence living, and if they are very blessed, a sympathetic rental agent will be willing to take a chance on renting to them. Vets in wheelchairs, lacking limbs or fully quadriplegic, wheel from homeless shelters to other forms of security day by day, ignored by the parade of humanity that passes them by.

In order for us to get back to a place we once occupied morally and spiritually, in caring for those less able than ourselves, we will continue our very obvious decline in the way others perceive us. Next time there is a disaster, before the latest barrage of disaster reality taping gets underway, stop-think- and remember our own quietly struggling folks, who don’t want a handout, but a handup, out of hopelessness.

As the next season approaches, take some time to think about ways you can make a difference in someone’s life, and bring them INside, where we all belong in America.

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