It’s a cold, rainy night tonight in northern California. For those who live in the Midwest or East, it’s hard to believe that it’s a cold, rainy night tonight in northern California, but it is.
What communities need now is places for folks to come out of the cold. In Oakland, there are never enough shelters. When someone asks for help – and really wants help to stay out of the cold – it’s hard to know where to send them.
Sometimes, of course, people don’t really want help – at least not the kind of help that can get them back on their feet. It’s true – sometimes folks don’t really want help. They want a hand-out, just enough money to buy a hot hamburger at McDonald’s, or maybe to buy a bottle of wine at a cheap liquor store. All that is true. That’s all some folks want. As for you and me, we don’t know why that’s all someone wants, or what got them to that place. It’s just the way it is.
And sometimes people really want help. Sometimes people really want just the kind of help that can get them back into a warm place, with a job, a safe place to spend the night, and maybe even a friend or two.
How do we get them from the place they come from on this cold and rainy night to the place where they are connected in community? How, indeed?
That’s what communities are for, but we’ve lost our way. We’re more into judging people for things we can’t really know, as if they choose in some conscious way to be on the streets on a night like this one. We have truly all lost our way. Not just the folks out in the cold, but you and me, because we’re part of the community, too, and we’ve forgotten that people have banded together just so they don’t have to live this often difficult life on their own.
We’ve lost our way when people are on the streets, on a cold and rainy night in northern California, and no help is on the way.