Tag Archives: homelessness

The New Normal: Homelessness and Who We Are

Often, I find myself trying to convey to my students and others in their age group that the way things are are not what they have always been.

The most glaring and disturbing example of that is homelessness. I try to explain to them that legions of desperate, disheveled, lost, sometimes crazy individuals begging for food in major cities are not an inevitable fact of nature-like thunderstorms or the changes of the season. During my childhood and teens, they simply didn’t exist. Yes, there were a few of what were then called “bums”, “drunks” or (in Paris) “clochards”, but the apocalyptic scenes which we are assaulted with in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, downtown Los Angeles and New York City were unimaginable to us then. While they generally don’t argue with me, I often detect a certain eye-rolling disbelief in that they can imagine that what I’m saying is true.

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