IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! The Angry Buddhist: December 2004

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Homeless Hurt Santa Clarita Curb Appeal

I couldn't believe the Mayor of Santa Clarita when I read the article last Saturday:
"It's something all communities wrestle with on an ongoing basis, and we're no exception," he said. "We had a homeless shelter set up for many years, but it has been a challenge in meeting the needs and concerns of the entire community both pro and con on the matter."

I was moved to write the following letter to the editor of the LAT. Although it wasn't printed, it should have been:

Dear Editors,

When Santa Clarita mayor, Bob Kellar (November 27, 2004, Outsourcing of
Homeless Stirs Integrity Debate) talks about meeting the needs of "the entire
community, both pro and con on the matter" I want to know who the "cons" on
this matter are.

Who are the selfish, less caring, look out for #1 people and why should they
be given equal weight in any discussion by a community that claims to stand
for America's ideals and visions?

The people who stand in opposition to providing homeless men, women and
children a winter shelter fail the moral values test by any religion or
society's standard. Why would any town willingly overrule the golden rule on
their behalf?

It's easy to market empty slogans about what a great place Santa Clarita is to
live in and raise your family, but actions speak louder than Chamber of
Commerce platitudes.

A community willing to turn its back on the poor, hungry and homeless within
their own midst and ship them away like so much waste to a landfill, throws
its own soul on the very top of the trash heap. There can be no debate about
our obligation in the richest, most blessed nation on earth to take care of
the worst off among us.

I can't help but view stories like this through the lens of "moral values" ever since that phrase started being used like a bludgeon against liberals. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the real estate professional mayor considers himself a conservative and of high moral values. Just as I wouldn't be surprised - based on the California real estate market - if the mayor enjoyed the most profitable year of his business life.

I learned about the mayor's occupation in an outstanding column in today's LAT by Steve Lopez, one of the Angry Buddhist's favorites. Read it yourself right now (LINK).

What I found unbelievably ironic last Saturday - and frankly, pitifully sad - was the article in that very same California section of that date's paper. "Bringing Serious Bling to Colorado Boulevard," (LINK) the story about how after 100 years of use the costume jewel crown worn by the Rose Queen would now be made of real diamonds, pearls and platinum worth $100,000. The change comes as a celebration of... well nothing. It's a PR and marketing stunt by high end retail jewelry chain.

Events don't get any more conservative than Pasadena's own Rose Bowl parade with its faux royal family and staunch traditions, so I don't get why they're agreeing to this obvious and crass pimping. At what point does the selfish greed and conspicuous consumption get too unacceptable even for the most well off people in the most well of country?

What kind of society argues about whether poor homeless people deserve a warm place to sleep at night but has no problem with spending $100,000 on a jeweled crown for a make believe parade queen? I'll tell you what kind, the kind that says what it means but doesn't really mean what it says.

In a society that had real moral values instead of hypocritical ones, the powers that be in Pasadena would have told the Mikimoto jewel people that the crown they already had was perfect for their event and that they'd much rather the jeweler donated $100,000 to help people are forced to sleep in cardboard boxes - or if they're lucky in their cars.

But we don't live in that kind of society. We live in a society where election after election is held and no one ever talks about their solution to feeding the poor, housing the homeless and the fact that we are all judged by how we treat the worst off among us - not how we reward the best off. The kind where too many people have no problem sending their unfortunate neighbors out of town on a bus rather than feeling any moral responsibility to do onto others as they would like someone to do to them.

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