Sometimes making friends has a dark side. Volunteer for night security here a couple of times and you hear a lot of sad messed up stories. The powers that be are screwing over pretty much everyone, but if you really want to see people who have been let down by the system in a big way, talk to the people who were already living in the park when we showed up. Sure there are a few lazy people and jerks, but no more than average in any population. Lack of trying hard is rarely what happened to people living without permanent housing, but untreated mental illness and physical health problems are rampant. Interestingly enough, a surprising number of these guys actually do have jobs and family in town, but a paycheck and a hot meal can’t fix the underlying problem. I identify with a lot of the people I talk to. We seem fine and able until we aren’t. If you don’t know us I can see how fear and depression might be mistaken for apathy and lack of effort.
So now some of these people are my friends, and it hurts a lot sometimes knowing food and blankets and someone to talk to is all I can offer. I get angrier than I ever thought I could be when people who stop by trivialize why we are here by mockingly suggesting we are just silly kids on a glorified back yard camping trip. A protest sign I saw from Occupy Wall Street says it all “This shit is fucked up and bullshit”.
Speaking of that, I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. I keep doing things I couldn’t do before, and while its still scary and hard as shit to do them, I can push through and keep going as long as I know it’s helping someone. I’ve let myself down so often and had to arrange my life around my fear for so long that I don’t know if I want to even hope that it sticks after all this is over. It would be nice though.
Originally posted October 26, 2011:
It’s been hard to explain to people what a leaderless organization really entails. A state of near anarchy is complicated. The answer to “are you in charge here?” is yes. It’s also no. In many ways it’s a beautiful thing. Everything big that happens is a result of people deciding to work together, but one is free to act as an individual without much consequence. People seem to tend toward helping each other because it is after all mutually beneficial for people to get along and get things done. It gets dicey when you have need of a set system to accomplish long term goals however. What happens if rules that may actually be necessary for those goals are not voluntarily accepted by the entire group? Peer pressure, positive or negative seems to be the natural solution in a lawless community. When you depend on people wanting to help you, it pays to be helpful back. When you help each other often enough, after a while it’s just that you just want to do good things for your friends.