Personal Freedom or Neglect?

City Camping

Just enjoying my choice of being a full time camper.



Frequently, I have written about focus, and about self-improvement. Useful topics that can help with surfing and also can be used in life in general. Todays post is a bit different than most but it ties in with choices and living our one given life to the fullest.

From experience, I have first hand knowledge of subjects that are not so cheery. Sandwiched in between wonderful days of traveling and friendship has come some dreary times…especially considering some events happened when I was a teen. Drug use, incarceration, suicide, and mental illness are a few subjects that I know to well. Do not fret, some of these were obviously done on behalf of my group of friends. Also, as an adult, for 3 years I worked once a week as a staff assistant at a food bank/re-employment center. Now I am actively dealing with a problem that covers the United States and that is the homeless crisis.

Now before moving on, we need to understand a few facts.

The sidewalk area falls in the public right of way. In this zone, you can meander, sit around, and do what you want within the laws. Once you break a law such as assault or public urination then you now become a criminal suspect and can be arrested. As long as you are not bothering anyone, you have the right to sit at a bus stop and not catch the bus for example.

To further the problem, lawmakers have chosen to carry out their agenda by framing this situation in a way that only a person far removed from reality of daily living would ever dream up.

Hijacking the concept of personal freedom and responsibility, lawmakers began a campaign to cast the poor as people deserving of bad outcomes. Worse, former President Reagan help to spearhead a dismantling of the countries mental health hospitals. The narrative is that the homeless have chosen not to work hard and some even are just choosing to spend their days out doors. A modern Box Car Willy…enjoying a life of riding the rails for fun and adventure. This cartoonish outlook sweeps under the rug the fact that many have chemical dependency issues and mental illness. But to me, knowing a person has only one life, how neglectful is it to not work towards giving someone treatment and to allow them to spend their precious life sleeping on plastic bags in a planter of a local business?

So now for how this affects you besides dealing with being accosted for spare change while you try to take care of daily routines.

We all pay taxes. Taxes are used by a city to build a park. Operate business offices. Cut trees along the road. Pave your local streets and a whole lot more.

When referendums come up for a tax increase, most people will vote no. So the city has to balance priorities. Should we hire more law enforcement officers? Pave the bad road with pot holes. Build a bike trail to the new school so kids do not have to ride in the street?

The homeless tax that system even further. Most cities do not have the extra money to build 24 hour public restrooms so past the closing time of the local park; the homeless begin to use closed off areas as public restrooms. The city pays someone to clean the area and to remove the dirty clothes that are abandoned because the homeless do not have access to washing machines. If they do not, the waste can become a health issue. Further down the line, the situation taxes the local police force who have to deal with the criminal activity and they are forced to play mental counselor.

So at the moment, most urban areas are taking part in a game. The game is called shuffle the problem. An area becomes a hot spot due to it being out of the public eye. An old run down parcel of land, an overpass, a corner of a park. Then comes the permits or a new development close by and the complaints start. The homeless are sent packing to some other location. This game is doable in some areas and some are taxed beyond their limits. All it takes for the areas holding steady is a drop in the economy and the problem balloons to a point that it becomes intolerable.

The Camp Out

A few times a week I take a sidewalk that once led to an office area of a local business but now falls into a highway project area. I pass people of all ages and race on this sidewalk to nowhere. I walk past blankets, bicycles tied to trees, tents, and plastic black garbage bags filled with belongings. Every week I stand in about the same spot. I stand next to one of the constants. A long blue blanket nestled next to a concrete wall. A few feet away on the other side of the wall, thousands of residents zip by in their cars on a local street on their way to work. An unseen existence for a blue blanket that is as anonymous as the human wrapped inside of it. I often wonder who is under the blanket.

One day my team was visiting the area and the noise made the blue blanket move around. Then out popped the groggy face of a woman. Grey hair adorned her head. She appeared to be in her 60s. She looked over to me and I gave her a thumbs up and she pulled the blanket back over her.

This could be Aunt Sue or Grandma Patty to someone.

The faces cover the gamut. Old, young, Hispanic, Caucasian, and African-American.

Wrapping it all up.

If you were to ask most people, they would feel that they do things at work that takes some effort. Addressing this situation will not be easy for the congressmen. Instead they choose to focus on nonsense because nonsense can get people emotional. Listen to the news…Our borders are under attack while data shows the actual amount of crossings are dropping. It is a lot easier to make a person believe that a poor terrorist in Douma, Syria, is currently on Priceline negotiating to take a flight to the U.S. minus a visa then it is to do actual work such as taking care of people with nothing.

A solution…Write someone who wants to have an easier day at work than what you experience.

Drop an email to your Senator and Congressman and feel free to ask about this issue as well as anything else that is bothering you.

Make Them Work for You Again! And make them work on behalf of the people in their districts who they also work for…the people they forget about who have no way to contact them and remain hidden under a blue blanket behind a highway divider.





About 1stpeaksteve

Welcome to The Side Wedge! The Side Wedge is a product of the journey through life of Steve Zima. Former professional surfer, a writer, surf coach, and hospitality manager. This is a collection of travel tips, motivation, and stories from my past. Finally, I offer surf coaching through The Side Wedge. Please feel free to contact me with questions if you want to improve your performance today! Thanks for reading!
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