Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Homeless?

OK, let me ask you about something else, while we're on the subject. And first of all, I am not going to say anything negative or critical about rich people, because I don't want to offend anybody's religion. Today.

But what about people who are super-duper chickenshit about the homeless? I mean, c'mon. Are we that afraid of them?

I know there are offensive "homeless" people out there -- unarmed robbers, basically, who try to man you out of your money. Ever heard of "Just say no?"

We were talking about downtown yesterday and how the waffle-brows at City Hall want to shut down the tunnel system in order to force the Morlocks back out onto the streets. Morlocks -- that would be us, the slacker citizens who hang out in air-conditioned tunnels downtown instead of doing our civic duty and going up on the sidewalks to create a "walkable neighborhood."

Apparently walking underground doesn't count. We have to be up on the sidewalks where the waffle-brows can count us.

I think some people misinterpreted me as being anti-sidewalk. I love sidewalks. I wish our sidewalks downtown were jammed with snake-charmers, rug-merchants, squid-sellers and soothsayers. I just don't think boarding up the tunnels will do it.

I would offer as proof some of the commenters yesterday who were saying that they stay down in Morlock-land in the tunnels in order to avoid the homeless. See. Some of the people down there are never coming out on the street anyway, because they're afraid of daylight and the human race.

Oh, now here we go again. Now I'm going to offend people's religions anyway, even though I didn't want to, by contending that homeless people are members of the human race. I know that in the Park Cities translation of the Bible, Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an unfashionably dressed man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (I think there's some debate about the translation from the Greek.)

But give us a break. Most homeless people are harmless. Some of them are funny, if you talk to them. Give them a buck or don't. It's up to you.

But are you really going to give up the streets of your city to them, because you're afraid of them? If they look nuts, walk around. If you don't feel like paying them, don't. But don't give up your city.

The only reason the homeless are so visible downtown is because nobody else is down there to make a crowd. Find a way to fill downtown with people, and the homeless among us will be much less visible.

And ... Oh, man, I swore to myself I would not do this ... but I'm going to anyway ... I'm just going to go ahead and say it.

The homeless are cool. I admire a guy who can survive without working and stay drunk all day on other people's money.

We could all take a chapter from them. In a better world, we would all trade places every once in a while. They would come do the laundry and pay the bills in our lives, and we would all go downtown for a week or so and sit around on their corners half-baked, making crude jokes about passersby.

We could stagger a mile in their shoes.

You know, according to one interpretation, it's the sober man who can't get through the eye of the needle.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze

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