A twelve-year-old peasant girl named Mary is counting the contractions at nine months of an unplanned pregnancy. Her partner Joe is trying to do the right thing, but the engagement vows didn’t cover infidelity or raising another man’s child. Walking 10 days with labor pains, looking for lodging, her water finally breaks. The boy is born homeless in a shopping cart, wrapped in rags, dismissed by a world with no vacancies.
2000 years later, a national study concluded that nearly everyday people in poverty try to get off welfare, receive less in subsidized benefits than corporations, live with chronic pain, go to bed 3 hours before their job starts, eat on $133 a month worth of food assistance, try to avoid getting beat up by someone they love, and search for affordable housing. Nearly everyday people in poverty search for affordable housing.
Jon Stewart said in response to the terrorist attacks in Charleston, “I have nothing, no jokes or sounds, but sadness that we have to peer into the abyss of depraved violence… the nexus of a gapping racial wound that will not heal but yet we pretend doesn’t exist. I’m confident that by acknowledging it, by seeing it for what it is… we still won’t do jack… It is a disparity of response.”
Still, for the entirety of human history, in response to apartheid or interment camps, women’s rights and civil rights, someone has finally stood up and spoken up. The National Coalition for the Homeless, the organization that first organized this event, implores that the primary emotion of this memorial service should not just be solemnity or grief, but rather actionable outrage.
Outrage that on Code Purple nights, American’s largest home has 250 empty rooms.
Outrage that despite the land grabs and strip malls, inclusionary zoning will never get passed.
Outrage that while we court the well-healed tourist, we cling to the turfdom of nimbyism.
Outrage that as the hotels rise with gentrification, the poor are lowered deeper into the grave.
Outrage that since the first Christmas, we’re still arguing about whether housing is a human right.
A homeless boy was born on Dec. 25th and the question of his coming still confronts us today, “When are we going to invite him inside?”