Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Have Shirt, Will Travel

Writer, philosopher and naturalist kook Henry David Thoreau—you know, the one that decided to shun society and live in a hut on the edge of Walden Pond, only to limit his expenditures, his possessions and his contact with others—wrote: “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” Interesting comment, especially coming from someone we would, by today’s standards of society, have labeled a transient, but it is apt 160 years later even.

Here I stand, trained and in the required uniform of a city volunteer, prepared to go out and help clean up the town, just like Paladin. Tonight, our group of ragtag volunteers were presented in front of the mayor and the city council at the weekly council meeting, and it was nice to be recognized for our efforts. As well it was interesting to see the inner functions of the city, and the first portion of the meeting was surprising jovial, relaxed and disarming in that same manner our grandparents felt during Roosevelt’s fireside chats on the radio. The mayor came down from behind the impressive architectural structure of the council members’ desk and presented some awards to a couple of kids and a few plaques to the deserving and merited.

Each one of us were called up in our fancy shirts and hats and a presented with a short bio, how long we lived here, what we did for a living and our familial status, and we all received a round of applause from about the 50 people that attended tonight.

It was nice. Nobody gave us the key to the city or a ticker-tape parade as we left, but those in charge got to see some actual results of their plans, something I’m sure might be a rare experience in civic politics at the city level.

It is ironic that I chose Thoreau to introduce this little diatribe because Thoreau can be considered our first transient, a literary bum on the fringes of society, challenging not only his status as a citizen of this world but that of his relationship with the natural order.

Well, the difference between the theories of “simplify, simplify” from pseudo-bum Thoreau and the real, honest-to-goodness have nots that troll the city in search of the basics of life and alcoholism… is that Thoreau graduated from Harvard in 1837 and decided to “live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach.” Homeless people chose their course not because they want to see what life has to teach them, but because they want to hide from those essential facts of life in an effort to self destruct.

And they need help.

That’s where I come in.

I have a shirt and a hat: a new enterprise which requires new clothes.

No comments:


web site tracking
Sierra Trading Post