My wife loves to read mystery stories. She’s not in good health, and she spends most of each day lying in a sunny room in our house on the second floor, reading mystery novels.
Recently, I walked into her reading room to give her some chocolates. As she greeted me with her usual cheery smile, I happened to look out her window facing west. We live in the exact dead center of the flats of Beverly Hills and have the only lawn on our block that has not been altered to make it into a driveway to show off the owner’s Bentleys and Ferraris.
It was a bright, sunny day, and as I looked out I saw a man in ragged jeans, with no shoes and no shirt. He had a scraggly beard and was pushing a shopping cart laden with the normal detritus of a homeless person’s sad life. On the top of it was a surprisingly jaunty straw sombrero.
I’ll be honest here for just a second. My first fleeting thought was selfish. “This is not good for a pitiful-looking homeless man to be on my block. My house is a major part of my assets. I want it to have the highest possible value. Homeless passersby do not have that effect.”
But immediately, I felt deeply ashamed of myself. I thought instead, “Holy smoke. I’m just a few dozen yards from that sorrowful human being. But he has no home. I have a home. In fact, I have a lot of homes. That man is going nowhere and he’s probably hungry. I have on my bathing trunks and am about to swim in my heated pool, after which I will have someone make me scrambled eggs.
“But I am not necessarily a morally better man than he is. I may well be worse. But I had two college and grad school-educated parents, husband and wife. My father was a famous man and an adviser to presidents. I grew up in relative luxury. I have never gone without a meal and never had to live outdoors. This is not right in a country as rich as ours. Especially not in a neighborhood where it is standard for high school graduates to be given Lamborghinis for high school graduation.”
I happened to have a wad of 20s in my room and ran to get them to give them to this man. Alas, when I got out to the street, he was gone.
But it was a sobering sight. It’s just insane for a country as rich as ours, and especially a state as rich as ours, to have so many heart-rending homeless. Yes, I am a Republican, and, no, I do not mind paying more taxes for them to have shelters. No, I do not think it’s patronizing to help them. They are pitiful and need shelter and food and medicine and a warm, safe place to sleep.
I don’t think God gave us all of these things to sit idly by while the wretched of the Earth slouch by our lush green lawns. Mr. Biden, here’s a chance to act right and not just talk right. A national program to help the homeless is long overdue. What we see on our streets in our decadent era is a disgrace.
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