New Poem: The Camp


Right now, as in, today, April 24, my hometown is trying to push homeless people out of a community they made, more or less out of anyone’s view, because, well, who knows why. I mean, sure, it is probably to keep development investors happy. And technically they are on private,though unusable to the owners, land. Personally I think too many in our society enjoy kicking people when they are down. Especially people who don’t count as people in the eyes of too many.

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Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Has anyone noticed Eleanor Roosevelt’s hand in all this yet? I, for one, miss her and she passed nine years before I was born. Many accuse (and yes they are happy to use that word) her of having an undue hand in the New Deal, you know, the plan that saved our country? She realized, as educated people around the world are doing in greater numbers all the time, that a compassionate society is a stabler and simply greater one. I suspect her influence is over rated vis-a-vis the policies her equally intelligent and decent husband was the driving force behind is vastly over rated. Her influence on the Declaration, however is not, and it shows the most in Article 22.

There are certain things nobody should go without. Everyone deserves to be fed, everyone deserves safe shelter, everyone deserves decent health care and at least the simplest methods of entertaining themselves, even if it is only a public park to enjoy (I am inclined to define it a little more liberally than that though.) These are things that, as unbelievable as it may seem, most of the people on Earth go without.

To some, the fact that so many go without to such an extreme degree is somehow proof that we do not need to improve things in industrialized democracies. “Look how bad they have it,” some advocates of austerity say “the poor in our country could have it worse.” They are right, of course, they could. They deserve better, however, as do the poor around the world. I do not see the absolutely destitute people of Ethiopia, Somalia or Sierra Leone as a reason to not improve things for those that go without in our country, I see it as a reason to call for the elites to do more for both groups.

I have been in the gutter more than once. The most recent time I swallowed my pride and went to family for help. There were a couple of times though, that I did not. They were thankfully short-lived, but I got a taste of what it is like, the not being able to wash for a week or more, the eating every other day, and learning that summertime overnight lows of the high 50’s are still pretty cold when you are sleeping on the cold earth. For many, both here and abroad, this is more than a two-week hiccup. This is an everyday of every year reality. Any society, any individual, that thinks it is OK for even one person to suffer that, cannot call themselves a decent individual and be taken seriously.