The area I live in is a relatively small community...we "go into town" which has a population of right around 10,000 people. My little town which is the next town up the mountain from *the* town....is much smaller with maybe 3,000 people. Everyone knows everyone through some strand of a connection. During the last year or so someone created a "watch" page on Facebook. Tons of these pages have popped up now.....homesteading and farming, a chat page, a sound off page, lost and found animals page....it is really an asset, most of the time, until it turns nasty.
People feel brave online, and they say some of the darnedest things. So over the last year I started to get these "watch page" updates. Any crime that has been committed, if the cops are flying down the freeway, someone on the watch page will know where they are going and why. Its a busy-bodies dream! The problem for me started when I began to read references and then huge debates and attacks about the "less thans" in our community....and we have our fair share. The drug addicts, the homeless, the mentally ill.....
Let me add here as a side story: that we had a legal homeless encampment that was a beautiful functioning community. Oh my gosh, it was such a tribute to peoples resourcefulness and showed that when given a chance they can work together and figure out a way to make something really amazing out of nothing. They had a temporary use permit for a plot of land that they set up their camp on. The community resource center helped them to get portable toilets set up, a cooking station, a dish/hand washing station, a shower that could be used once a week on a rotation basis, and garbage service. Before we knew it the residents of this little tent city were helping one another to stay clean, they gave each other accountability. They took the mentally ill under their wing, making sure medications were taken, dr. appointments kept. People began to thrive as they experienced self sufficiency and progress. It was a beautiful thing is all I can say.
Then mid-winter, their temporary use permit expired and the county wouldn't extend it as it had already done so once or twice before. The camp had become so successful that people were arriving from other states to try to get a spot....there was a strict criteria for behavior at the camp and limited space. When the figurative doors weren't flung open to welcome the out of the area homeless population, THEY took to our streets which became a problem. The camps very success ended up leading to its demise.
The camp was torn down and the residents scattered into our hills and rural areas to set up illegal camps. Now you hear of these camps being broken up and the people shooed away like dogs. During the deep winter months a nomadic shelter is offered.....various churches each host a night a week and a bus will pick up the homeless at the meeting spot and they drive them to that nights church, where they can have a hot meal and sleep indoors in a sleeping bag that is donated to them.
So back to my original purpose of writing about this today....on my community pages I often see the "less-thans" of my community referred to using some really cruel terminology. "Tweaker scum," "Dirtballs," Pollock white trash." (Pollock is a little mountain town near where I live.) It always feels like a slap when I read these things. So one day, I posted a picture that I got off of FB (of course) that was about breaking the stigma of addiction, reminding us that these lost people weren't always this way and that they are someone's child, grand child, parent, spouse...
So let's be kind, was my point.
Oh my gosh....it was like I threw a match into a gas can. There were a lot who were supportive, but the one's who weren't were the loudest and most cruel.....and used lots of poor grammar I might add. The anger and viciousness was shocking. The uneducated opinions, the strident defense of their positions, and lots of debate on disease vs. choice, were being hurled all over the interweb! All I could think was that they felt brave because they were online because the people I meet around town, don't act like that.
So here we are a couple weeks after the fact and I happened to read Hattie's blog. Oh. It soothed me. It spoke exactly what I had been trying to say. It took the sting of my communities "hatred" away. I hope you will read it too. I promise you it is one of the finest and most loving pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. I am hoping she will work at getting this published, because it is a message that needs to shouted from the rooftops.
Much love to All.....