The pretentious critique by John Thompson of Dr. Dawn Keith-Madeiros’ Sound Off further illustrates misconceptions encouraged by biased reporting. A public safety information meeting about how this community can deal with real issues became social commentary from a homeless advocate, not calling for a business boycott but the next best thing: public shaming of community members for being concerned about their livelihoods and families.
The citizens who showed up have been supportive, actively charitable members of this community for decades, apparently unlike Mr. Thompson.
They’re also the economy of this county; many were raised here, are raising their families here and want the best for all. Contrary to Mr. Thompson’s suggestion, which smacks of fascism, they have the right to voice their concerns.
Few in the room have not had struggles including homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues. They differentiate between available services and non-profits that are truly addressing the needs of the working poor, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, and those that are merely making the willfully transient comfortable in their chosen way of life. The article didn’t make that distinction clear.
Free services sound loving but by ignoring human nature they’ve become an attraction to transients from all over the state and beyond. Some admit they’re here because Island County is welcoming and the living is easy: food, shelter, transportation, whatever one needs for urban camping, all free.
That leaves panhandling prophets free to drink, smoke or shoot up — with free needles. It also leaves them free to soil public spaces; parks, ball fields, beaches, gardens and sidewalks have all been made unsafe by needles left lying, human feces and rat-attracting garbage. Even the street people who’ve been around a while have no compunctions here, especially when they’re drunk, high or in a mental health crisis.
Allowing this to go on is not charity, not virtue. It is apathy; it’s cowardly and unloving to leave human beings to their demons, hopeless and vulnerable. Mr. Thompson spoke of being a Christian nation but doesn’t seem to recognize that the underlying reason for addiction, alcoholism and much mental illness is spiritual. Any clean-and-sober addict or alcoholic will tell you enabling this destructive, antisocial behavior is not helpful.
Defensiveness and stubborn refusal to admit what we’re doing now is not effective is a stumbling block to constructive dialogue about real solutions.