As expected, Tent City was shut down yesterday. I was privileged to pass through there from time to time and will miss the lack of pretense, classism and faux righteousness that exists where brokenness is the price of admission. Some of the residents were granted housing, some were taken to shelters and some simply relocated just a few blocks away in the shade of a less visible underpass. For all the critique the city is getting for it's inability to deal, i did see a lot of people and agencies really put in work to help folks find solutions in the form of shelter, resources and connection. Not just at the end of Tent City but throughout it's history. Of note are people like MDHA's Cindy Crane, Soupmobile's David Timothy, Human Impact's Elisabeth Jordan, Homeless Nexus' LaDonna York, Observer's Eric Nicholson and countable others. For all the verbal sparring and conjecture that typically exists around complex social issues like this, there are always people like these out meeting problems head on and doing good for goodness sake. These deeds counter the sermons of cynics and mere brainstorms. Word is to be studied but active hands and feet are the word made flesh.
And what i've been thinking about in the hours since are those who weren't given or wouldn't accept help and have pitched the same tents on not too distant tracts of dirt. The hypocrisy of "Dallas" wanting them out but not seeming to mind when they moved to a new location doesn't go unnoticed but that's just one manifestation of the problem and feels topical. Underneath that, the question i return to is how we respond to those who resist progress, assistance and the basic guidelines and structures of society that most of us have accepted? We can't say that we'll simply allow them to pursue their lowly fate because Tent City was a by-product of that and we clearly found it objectionable. We can't rightly expect them to follow law and reason as we know it because many of this populace can't or won't heed such codes. And we can't lock them up because beyond morality, it makes little financial and practical sense. So how do we treat those on the fringes who have seemingly defected? How do meet those with chronic brokenness? A lot of folks have said something to the effect of being able to measure a society by how it's treats it's most vulnerable citizens. Because of the actions of some of the above, i think it isn't all bad. But more of us could stand to experience the cleansing that comes with getting our hands dirty, couldn't we? Tell you what, it wouldn't hurt nothin'.