Today I am walking through 2 neighborhoods in Wichita which have long suffered the scourge of poverty and neglect. First, the Planeview neighborhood, a construct of dilapidated apartments, sits in stark contrast to the wealth generated by nearby Spirit (formerly Boeing) Aerosystems.
Second, on Broadway Avenue in the Midtown neighborhood, I am struck by the visible presence of people struggling with homelessness. It’s 8 a.m. and the heat index is already approaching 90 degrees. I literally have to walk around a man sleeping out in the open, on a mattress, in the middle of a sidewalk. I think about putting a few dollars near him, but decide against it because I do not want to wake or startle him.
A few blocks later, I encounter a man selling junk outside a QuikTrip. He shows signs of having experienced a schizophrenic break with reality. I hand him a $5 bill and think, “What a drop in the bucket, in comparison to the 600,000 people who sleep on the streets every night in the richest country in the world.” The man shows me sweet gratitude and I tell him, “Make sure to drink plenty of water today, my friend.”
The Department of Urban Affairs says $20 billion could virtually end homelessness–that’s 1/37th of the U.S. military budget. The same fear that we show our “enemies” half-way around the world is the same fear that many of this country show toward homeless people. I think of my Catholic Worker friends who have taught me to break through this fear of “the other.” If only we could realize how radically interconnected we are, perhaps we could break through this fear. Then we could truly beat our swords into decent houses for all.
— by Charles Carney in Wichita walking to the Kansas City National (In)Security Campus