Monday, December 29, 2008

A picture is worth a THOUSAND words ...

It is said that Albert Einstein once quipped- "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." I can't help but wonder if he was speaking of the anonymous critic who left comments recently on my posting about the discussion of homelessness.

Since I started blogging the anonymous criticisms that have been offered have been unbelievably critical and harsh. The accusations that have been lobbed my way have been numerous and seldom accurate. What unites them all is the veil of anonymity that these small minded petty fools hide behind ... initially these comments found their mark and hurt. But as I've moved through the last three years and witnessed first hand what the "good church people" at the local and Presbytery level are capable of, and as I've experienced repeatedly the hypocrisy of people who would smile to my face but think nothing of sinking a dagger in my heart and soul, I can only laugh at the pathetic attempt to feel good about one's own self by undertaking anonymous criticism of another.

The first comment about the language used in passing in my newspaper article is unfounded simply because - had they read the article AND The Christmas Carol by Dickens, they would see that I was using Dickens' phraseology. Throughout his 19th Century text we find Scrooge challenged to embrace "MANKIND" as his business. And unless I'm mistaken, mankind is STILL the accepted phrase to speak of humanity's universality. The politically correct neutering of the English language is fine, but grammatically incorrect.

And the second comment about my current job arises simply from utter and breath-taking ignorance.

The anonymous poster (and here I assume both comments came from the same person trying to be both witty and cutting) clearly failed to understand the content posted, much less the work, vision and mission of my position and the Steering Committee I work with. Obviously, their desire to take a shot at me and try in vain to pull me down took precedence over embracing the blindingly obvious.

Homelessness is a problem in Brandon. Not the traditional shelterless style of homelessness that we see in the large WARMER urban centres like Vancouver. In Brandon, there are a dozen or so individuals, who by the season choose to be shelterless. But the bigger more ominous problem in Brandon are what scholarship has dubbed the "precariously housed", or to use the more common parlance - "sofa surfers".

While the shelterless might number around a dozen or so on any given day, the sofa surfers may currently number upwards of 800 in Brandon - a number seemingly verified by work done by employees of the Regional Health Authority.

Yet, rather than naming the need of the entire community to address the housing crisis that is gripping the city of Brandon and much of West Man, the anonymous poster delights in taking a truly ignorant swipe at my position (one that has preceded me by almost 10 years), and the work that all of the Homelessness Coordinators have undertaken on behalf of Brandon. In his editorial, Mr. O'Connor raises some important issues - I've sent him a letter saying as much - but the appropriate response to his column by myself, by him, and by our community is to get to the bottom of the issue and address the housing crisis with affordable housing, appropriate supports and the lobbying of Government to improve the necessary services that the poor and marginalized NEED to survive.

Rather than taking a swipe at me, the anonymous poster should volunteer at Samaritan House and Helping Hands and see first hand the reality that the "at risk" population in Brandon are facing day by day.

I enjoy my current job. I can look back over the last 11 months and see the things that the Steering Committee and I have achieved, and feel good that we have made a difference, even in small ways, for those at risk. Yet there is much still to do ... just because one editorial raises concern about an exaggeration offered by one who's heart is committed to helping the less fortunate, doesn't mean there are no homeless in Brandon.

In truth there is EVERY indication that the homeless problem in Brandon is about to get worse before it gets better ... BUT, thanks to the dedication of the Steering Committee, who have representatives from all three levels of Government, and the agencies serving the less fortunate, the City of Brandon has the ability to stay ahead of the trend and minimize the impact that the current economic downturn coupled with the ongoing housing crisis would have ...

Yet, my anonymous poster self-righteously sits at their computer screen smirking with delight at their own wit, offering pithy criticisms of my postings - postings I SIGN MY NAME TO - and seeks to build themselves up by pulling me down ... to that I can only say - NICE TRY.

The comments remind me of hearing my classmates at Theology College reject the writings of Karl Barth because of an off-handed comment by one of our professors.

The comment was - "maybe we shouldn't consider what Barth had to say about women as valid because of his troubled relationship with them ..." She was of course referring to Barth's personal life and a troubled relationship with his mistress and other women in his life.

However, my class mates - UNIVERSITY educated people - broadened the comment by rejecting Barth's theology because "Pam said 'he has a problem with women' " I took my concern to Pam herself, and she was shocked and dismayed that her comment would be so misused, yet this was not uncommon in the highly charged overly politically correct environment that was Theology College.

It underscored for me the sad reality that possessing an "education" sometimes does little to dispel ignorance and stupidity ... My anonymous critic falls into a similar category.

In offering their two-bit opinions they've managed to prove Einstein correct ... Genius has it's limits, but ignorance and stupidity are boundless ...

As a parting thought - I offer a quotation I found this morning that pretty much sums up my feelings about anonymous posters who haven't got the courage to identify themselves while offering their ill-informed and mis-guided opinions:

"Never argue with an idiot. They will only pull you down to their level,
then beat you with experience"


indigo said...

In the north (the Canadian arctic, not Prince George!) those persons are called "porch cousins." Usually because they ARE your cousin and secondly, because the porch, is where they sleep. In the Arctic most homes have an inner and outer porch. The innner one is heated as that is where the water tank, sewage tank, furnace etc is and the outer one is very cold and holds the harness, hunting tools, raw hides, winter gear, boots, dogs or meat parts, etc. "Porch cousins" curl up in the inner porch and most often are turfed out when the owners of the home go to work. So from 0830 until 1700h they are "on the streets" in the Arctic. Only Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet have homeless shelters , one for men and one for women. All 26 of the other Nunavut communities do not.

sallie said...

Please do not be discouraged, the homeless and marginally housed in Victoria & Vancouver BC are out of control due to high housing costs and what appears to be a lack of will. Some folk refuse to be housed, but they are a minority and likely mentally ill. Hopefully the problem can be solved before it becomes radically worse!

anonymASS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sallie the strong said...

Lack of housing and support is a huge problem! It will require money and resources and direct effort.
And then we will be ok, and services for kids will be reinstated, and for seniors, and for the mentally ill and marginalized...

Right now too much is being focused on beauracracy and unworkable facitities, and wasted on group homes with little hope of growth and change.

And today, that is my opinion.


shawn said...

SL ... I got your request to remove one of the comments - but I would prefer to leave both of them up ... they are no contradictory, and they are very much in keeping with that I have learned about homelessness not just on the West Coast, but across Canada.

Your words speak a truth that is much needed - and that should be repeated NOT deleted !!

That's my opinion !!