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Current preservation of human lives is not on anyone's mind

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I received this desperate plea this morning. I offered to share my SpeakEasy space with my friend, Jan.  To Diane Nilan: Please put this homeless tunnel story on your blog. If you can't, maybe tell the AlterNet people. Maybe they could tell the White House? If you can't do that, just leave it in some church on your drive across the America. OK? Somebody will see it. Someone big. I know it. They'll do something. Light a candle. Think good thoughts, especially for the Tunnel People, wherever they went. Janyce Hamilton

 

What's left of America

The U.S. proposes funding 100 million to lasso a small asteroid to bring it to the moon to test if it will orbit the moon. In the future, there could be threats to earth, so we'll be needing to lasso in space. Future global preservation is on everyone's minds. There's one problem. Current preservation of human lives is not on anyone's mind.  Is it just me with this awkward question: is it too late to switch the lasso proposal for that 100 million for a sure thing now? It's those scared homeless children and their folks that bother me. How about the $100 million proposal being for guaranteed safety of shelter? No, it's not done now, like everyone is convinced it is. It's never been done in America. Like the game of telephone, a rumor started that still goes on that homeless people "choose not to go to one of the unlimited shelters offered and funded for them." This is one of those stubborn myths told and retold among Americans decade after decade. 

And I love America and Americans, but this whole thing is bothering me.

I finally had to say something after reading a news report today about a community of Missouri homeless families in America, the greatest country on earth. They got the hint that no one will be funding their rescue in Missouri or in Washington, DC. They knew they were on their own. Like explorers landing on the shores of a new land, they got to work. They should be on Donald Trump's TV show or Survivor, for they transformed into entrepreneurs. That's right, homeless entrepreneurs. Their business? To build a humble version of the American Dream. Very humble. They got creative in order to care for their own, to "think outside the cardboard box."  A little background: All homeless people learn it is against city ordinances to stop moving and sit for too long in one place, for this lingering has been redefined as "illegal camping" on public property (if you can make sense of that, you might use words like "freedom" and "justice for all" without feeling a nagging sense of pretending everything is fine).  Back to the news report that stopped me in my tracks. This homeless community tried a novel idea in Kansas City: hand-digging pits in the ground. If you have small children, nieces or nephews, you'd try anything too to give them a homebase if you lived outdoors. Treehouses are easily visible. Tunneling was their last resort.   Sequestration type cutbacks ensure that government shelters remain things of the past; foodstamp-type plastic cards are the consolation prizes. But not so fast--no plastic food card without an address. Homeless? Sorry, no address, no food.  Imagine you are someone with children. They cry, they beg, they're hungry. You sneak to farm bins to steal some cattle grain to feed them, or shoplift a loaf of bread, risking being unable to return with food or ever from being arrested. Think about that. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys anymore?It's gets confusing. Here's the end of the story about the underground homeless camp. Officers and elected officials didn't hesitate virtually bulldozing the entire underground community encampment. No matter that it was dug with desperate clawing hands, parents and kids and concentration, together in one last act to save themselves. Janyce Hamilton

The writer is a DuPage County, Illinois, PADS childcare volunteer, whose first book The Awkward Principle was just published.