Saturday’s “Peninsula Voices” had two letters that focused upon people living on the street.
One letter referred to squatters while another refused to refer to street people as homeless. The second letter used language that made me shiver.
“I think these people should be swept up, and given the choice, jail or rehabilitation.”
There are too many examples, historical and present, of one group of people sweeping up another because of fear or hatred, and forcing those so-called undesirables into losing their rights and liberties.
First, we still, at least for now, have rule of law. Persons cannot be jailed without due process.
Second, unless courts order, we cannot force people into rehabilitation.
The letter writer points out that often, even after rehabilitation, most return to the streets.
Drug addiction and alcoholism, while at first a choice, are physical dependencies that most abusers no longer have a choice about.
We do not know what spurred someone into addiction and living on the street.
Could have been an abusive home life, tragic loss, peer pressure or mental illness.
They now need society’s care.
There are no easy solutions, and the not-in-my-neighborhood position only spawns draconian suggestions.
We can only continue to provide, as best we can, humanitarian help via temporary housing, food and clothing.
Not judgment, and certainly not being swept up.