My brain seems to be in a constant state of eternal processing these days. It can be hard to rest when there is so much going on in our world today. Lately, it feels like I’ve had one eye on world issues, and the other on our little neighbourhood of Parkdale.
And there is un-rest everywhere. People are struggling. As much as we want to affirm an “equal opportunity” country, we simply can’t. Many have been relegated to living life on the margins of society, in Parkdale and beyond.
This past week I was walking down the main strip of Parkdale. We often embark on outreach walks to touch base with members of our neighbourhood – many of whom live on the margins. This day however, I was simply walking back to my van to get home. As I walked, I approached a bus shelter that has been occupied by a local woman for some time. She is known to The Dale and has lived on the streets for long periods of time and this bus shelter has been her home for several months. As I approached the shelter that day, I realized that the window panes had been removed, and that she had subsequently been displaced as well. It was a disturbing sight to see the empty shelter not knowing what had happened to this dear woman, but I was even more disturbed when another passerby, upon seeing the empty shelter, remarked, “oh good, they got rid of the problem.”
I confess that I did not confront the woman who made this comment. In the moment my mind was buzzing, probably because the comment had caught me so off-guard. It shouldn’t surprise me, because such attitudes are more prevalent than we often like to admit, but it did. I (sadly) shouldn’t be surprised when someone devalues and dehumanizes a fellow human being. It’s everywhere. Our neighbourhoods and our countries are in desperate need for change – a change that (among other things) upholds the inherent worth of our fellow human beings.
There is much work to be done.
UPDATE: Some unverified sources have reported that the woman was moved to a downtown shelter. Though this is some-what comforting news, I can’t help but think of what it would be like to be forcibly removed from my home on the spot, and how this lady is currently coping with this latest displacement. The city advertisement in the bus shelter she was removed from is a call to “stay home” during this current pandemic, and yet she was kicked out of her home by the city that told her to stay home. May we work for a better neighbourhood, and a better world.