I'm probably equally irritated by the fact that there are people who covet the anonymity of blogs to vent racism, hatred, xenophobia, resentment and paranoia against minorities and the poor. These are the people who dare not speak personally with the people for whom they have such antipathy, but find it easier to voice their venom protected by the thick techno-curtain of the blogesphere.
But I'm also concerned about the state of local politics. This past week, Central Dallas Ministries had yet another vote go against us. A vote to support our plans to turn a near vacant hotel into high quality homes for the poor and currently homeless, was denied by the council's housing committee.
When linked with the political disregard with which some of our elected officials hold unjustly formerly incarcerated citizens and I am beginning to wonder just who are the people we categorize as 'citizens'?
If you own property, how much does that property have to be worth, in order for your citizenship to matter?
If you have a business, does business ownership trump all other expectations that poor neighborhoods and communities have from government, therefore relegating them to a discounted type of 'citizenship'?
When we say 'community', who are we talking about? Are we talking about only those who have the social 'space' to meet and deliberate and publicly ask arcane questions in polite, appropriate ways?
What if 40-50 poor, unemployed, currently homeless people had come to City Hall voicing their support of a project that they considered to be in their interests? Would they be considered a 'community' or a mob?
Does it matter that they will most likely be in Dallas much longer than those who opposed the project?
Why is it always better for government to spend money to help those who have money make more money, while money spent to stabilize poor neighborhoods, homes and schools, find better jobs, or obtain more education are considered 'give-a-ways'.
Why are veterans, and others who have have worked and yet gone through some misfortune or personal disaster, leaving them homeless considered 'unworthy' to receive support via the benefits they've accrued through their service to their country or their more productive working years? And why do those who are one missed paycheck from financial disaster, if not homelessness, mouth the interests of those with money, and who receive much more 'welfare', than the poor?
And how do we think that it is fair, in anyway, to unjustly take away a man's liberty for decades, release him penniless and homeless and then say that it is politically untenable to support their just compensation?
What kind of politicians justify their support and perpetuation of these ironies? And how do we justify our support of them?Those of us who work with the poor, the homeless and those whose communities suffering neglect, blight, and decades of intentional and strategic disinvestment, are not blind to these ironies. And believe it or not we know and understand the political process not only as it should be, but as it currently operates. The fact that we chose to try to engage politics in the way it should be done, doesn't mean we're unmindful of the way it currently operates.
We are bewildered, however, that more people don't recognize those ironies and work with us to expose them. Until that happens, politicians will continue to talk themselves into thinking that they are doing the right thing. And those comfortable in voicing their thinly veiled antipathy, toward those with whom we work, will continue to give credence and support to those who find it more convenient to hide behind the blogesphere to spew their nonsense.
That is, until some of them join the numbers of those we serve.