I grew up in a rural North Dakota community where neighbors were really neighbors. In my early years, my family never locked their doors because they had no fear of being robbed or harmed by anyone in the community. Neighbors looked out for each other.
My grandfather told pioneer-day stories of people being saved from winter blizzards by happening upon a claim shanty abandoned for the winter and holing up there until the storm passed. It was a frontier code and nobody begrudged someone using their shelter, fuel or their food stores to preserve their lives.
Many a Sunday morning, my grandfather climbed to the hayloft and found someone burrowed in the hay, sleeping off a Saturday night hangover. Likely as not, the woozy neighbor got invited in for coffee and breakfast. No one worried about letting their children roam the prairies unsupervised all day long. The thought of anyone harming them would have been unthinkable. Children walked or rode horses to school on their own.
Things changed a bit as I was growing up. My parents took to locking their doors and padlocking their gasoline storage drum. People began to find tires stolen during the night and other thievery. The world was changing. Not for the better.
I haven't lived on those plains for more than fifty years now, but I know that, compared to many other places I've lived, they are still comparatively safe and secure. A good breed of people, for the most part, still lives there.
Today, as a member of the local Cottonwood, AZ Lions Club, I did a two-hour stint for our White Cane Day at the local Safeway, gathering in donations for our community services (sight, hearing, etc.).
During this time a clean and nicely dressed man of 75 happened by and gave a $1 donation. He revealed that he was homeless, having lost his three hundred thousand plus home when the recession hit. He lives and sleeps as best he can and a friend lets him shower, shave and do laundry at his home.
He gets a little over seven hundred dollars a month from Social Security. He used some of that to buy two tents to live in but no longer bothers.
Cities don't like to have homeless people around so the police in one of the local cities slashed his tents to ribbons with jack knives, trying to force him out of the area. He dares not try to camp anywhere in Sedona. He has been warned that he will be jailed.
A minister friend of his in Santa Monica, CA is trying to get him placed in HUD housing, and I'm hoping that will be successful. The man certainly needs it. How long HUD can continue to function is a good question.
I understand the problem cities have, but I also understand human need and human compassion. It seems to be ever more lacking in our society. While millionaires and billionaires are lavished with tax breaks and subsidies and live a life of luxury in their multiple mansions in multiple parts of the world, the down on their luck multitudes are ever more looked down on with disdain as if it is always their fault that they aren't situated comfortably. In some cases, it may be, but not most of the time. Treating them like no account animals who should simply slink off quietly and die is hardly worthy of our great nation, its traditions and its heritage.
Every time "cut" comes up in the political discussion, the first thing targeted is the already woefully inadequate provisions for those among us least capable of fending for themselves. I'm not talking about lavish handouts. I'm talking about making provision for those who absolutely cannot solve their problems without a helping hand. I've been there a few times in my own life and was very thankful that there was a caring individual who extended a hand when I needed it so desperately.