The Hungry Dad and Kid @ Walgreens on Santa Rita Rd
Original post made
by HelpTheHungry, Downtown,
on Nov 2, 2011
Pretty sure others saw a man and a kid standing near front entrance of Walgreens near Safeway on Santa Rita Road asking for help to buy food last evening (Tuesday 11/1/11).
How do we help them other than giving money as a one-time act?
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Posted by Jane
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 6, 2011 at 12:02 am
I disagree with most of what you say, Mike. Unlike you, I don't think I'd be so quick to jump to such sure-fire conclusions about my former professors based upon a perusal of their web page. Curriculum vitae -- plural, and for good reason. Most humans, and many professors too, are constantly evolving.
I'll remind you that the 'kids and their parents' example was yours; and that I mentioned that I didn't think it was the greatest analogy. Instead I posed (1) art, and its ability to shake people out of their routinized lives and ways of thinking and (2) 'other', and how 'other' can be appreciated as a great work of art that has the potential to draw us out of our selves.
I'll not comment much on your psychiatrist buddy, except to say that based upon your description of him, he doesn't strike me as being very good at his job. Even if we accept that (some) mental illness cannot be cured, that does not mean that the patient (and the patient's therapist) cannot experience substantial growth as a result of the therapeutic encounter. Your buddy sounds a bit jaded and closed off, and it doesn't sound like his patients are in very good (caring) hands.
Back to the street beggers.... I've stressed that I don't think street beggers should be objectified as we objectify bears in nature. In fact, my posts were meant as potential antidote to those who tend to treat street beggers as if they are things of danger or menance or dirtiness or mental instability or criminality. In fact, they are human beings, very complex, with stories to tell, and they possess the remainder of their lives to change, grow, perhaps even achieve excellence in various domains, whether they be academic, professional, or maybe even relational (e.g., marrying, or re-uniting with those who became separated because of poverty, psychological imbalance, the law, etc.).
You want to shy away from these human beings, and you say you encourage your children to do so as well. At the same time, you hold up 'experience' as that which holds most potential for you. Against this, I would argue that some forms of experience are superior to others. Experience that lends itself to one's self-adjustment within the culture, I would argue, is problematic: it may foster the 'safe' view that one should look at humans as things (bears) that are best to be avoided. The Greeks had a word for this: phronesis. But in considering phronesis, I always go back to a key question asked by Socrates: What if the individual is living in a city of pigs? How does the individual first recognize such and then transcend it?
I return to the transcendent power of art. But, again, I note this with some reticence, as art can pull us out of the city of piggishness, but there is no guarantee that it pulls us toward something that is necessarily better. Still, each time we enter an art museum, listen to Philip Glass, or open a book of fiction, we take the risk.
The hermeneutic position I've briefly described, and which you haven't really addressed, treats 'other' -- other humans, and especially those who make us uncomfortable -- as a grand piece of art that calls for understanding. We approach 'other' through an artful question that gets 'other' to open up to us so that, ideally, we open ourselves up to something that may be entirely foreign (frightening, menacing) to us. Without this we don't grow, or if we do grow, it is in a stunted manner. I teach my kids to regard the begger as a human being who calls out for understanding. He or she who risks an attempt to gain understanding has a great deal to gain from the venture. That most of us do not take the risk, but instead treat beggers as mere things (bears, criminals, scam artists, lazybones,etc), is in my estimation a sorry statement on what seems to be our increasing lack of humanity. How very alienated we have become from one another when we cannot look at another human being and recognize that it is a human being we are looking at.