Sunday, September 11, 2016

Instead of Instituting Good, Let Them Choose it of Their Own Free Will

   If we take the words of the hymn and apply them to how we, as a society, take care of the homeless, what will we do?
  "Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care
"I cannot see another's lack and I not share
  "My glowing fire, my loaf of bread
 "My safe shelter overhead"
   In Salt Lake City, as you know, homelessness is a major issue, and has been for years. If the city ever thought it had the problem solved, it was wrong. There was word a year or two back, though, that we had solved chronic homelessness. Also, more recently, there was a plan to create satellite stations throughout the area, instead of letting the Rio Grande/Pioneer Park deal with most all the homeless. Apparently, that vision has been tempered down to a plan for two smaller homeless shelters, both to be within Salt Lake City, itself.
  So, listening to the words of the song, as a society, what should we do? Or, are the words speaking to us just as individuals, and it becomes a responsibility of individuals to open their doors and let them in? There is nothing wrong with individuals taking people under their roofs, but I think often placing them under a roof can be something "the village" does.
   So how do you, as a village member, feel about the words of the song?
   "I cannot see another's lack and I not share . . . My safe shelter overhead."
   I think how those seeking reformation of the homeless here in this valley might have approached individual communities about siting shelters, only to be shut down. Or, perhaps the communities rushed to tell committee members not to even think about it, before they were even asked.
   I wish better for this valley. I wish the communities were of a mind to want to help. I wish the communities were approaching the committee on homelessness, saying, "What can we do? How can we help?"
   And, maybe in that there is a clue as to how to approach the individual communities. Don't go in heavy-handed, telling them what they must do. Rather, ask them if there is anything they want to do. Explain the problem. Explain how many people are without shelter, how many go without food, and how troubling their plight is to you, as a committee member. Then ask them if they want to do anything to help alleviate the suffering.
   Let them decide how they go about helping. If they want to host a homeless shelter, let that be the answer. If they aren't sure what they want to do, let them think about it for a few months. If they want to do nothing, so be it.
   Instead of bringing your answers, and saying, "This is what you need to do," let them provide their own solutions, let them use their own initiative. Instead of instituting a program from above, dictating what they will do, leave them to do good of their own free will.
   If the words of the song come echoing in their ears, I'm thinking they will help.

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