I just realized something today, and I want to share it in its raw form.
I’m angry with San Francisco because it has turned me into someone who can walk by a suffering human and pretend not to see them.
I have always looked down on people capable of doing that. And now I’m one of them.
I pass ten people an hour who are suffering from drugs or mental illness, and who clearly need help. A few dollars could absolutely help them in that moment, at least a little, at least for a few minutes or hours.
But I give money to one out of twenty—based on some internal Robin Hood scanner that detects a threshold of Pure Suffering that I made up in my own head. It feels good to use that test and to see the light come back green. It feels good to give. But even having such a test is disgusting. And meanwhile the other nineteen people get ghosted.
So I’m mad at San Francisco.
But is that right? Is that really who I’m mad at?
I’m more mad at myself. For allowing myself to become someone capable of ghosting someone in need.
But then I work through that.
- I pay lots of taxes.
- I’d happily pay more if I thought it would help.
- Who abandoned these people?
- Why don’t they try harder?
- Reagan was a monster for shutting down the mental hospitals.
- I hate the big pharma companies.
- I hate the city for tolerating this.
- I hate myself for not having a solution.
San Francisco is a perverted caricature of kindness. It’s about helping the unfortunate the way Stalin was about equality and solidarity.
The price of Stalin’s purity in the city was Gulags in the country. And the price of San Francisco’s moral cowardice is city streets overrun by a zombie population that the thriving pretend are invisible.
How broken are we as a society that we can carry on a normal conversation while ignoring the abject suffering of fellow humans? After a few days the shock wears off. After a few months you hardly notice. And after a couple years it’s like they’re invisible.
Shame on us. Shame on me for being one of us.
I grew up in the East Bay, and I used to very rarely see homeless people. Outside of San Francisco I generally help. Probably 80% of the time, depending on circumstances. And it makes me feel good.
My life philosophy demands that I do. So little of what I have could do so much for someone else. It’s just math morality. I am compelled. As a matter of life choice.
But in San Francisco I would go poor trying. And even worse there wouldn’t even be much acknowledgment in most cases. There’s no cosmic exchange of kindness. Only a mark getting tricked into parting with a small amount of coin.
So now I get confused for a tourist, because locals don’t give money to the regulars on the street.
Amazing. How fucking cynical do you have to be to write such a hideous sentence?
Like I said—I’m angry.
I’m angry with San Francisco. I’m angry with myself. I’m angry at the people on the street. I’m angry that nobody is taking care of them. I’m angry that I’m part of that nobody.
It’s not like the solution is hard and I can’t do it.
It’s functionally impossible.
What’s the solution?
Anyone who’s suffering on the street, determine if they are mentally ill, on drugs, are fully functional and got shafted by the economy, or if they just decided to abstain from the capitalist grind.
Build hospitals for the mentally ill. Get the drug addicts into programs. Help the temporarily homeless get shelter and support and a new job. And tell the hippies that they have to get off the streets?
I have no idea what to say to someone who could work but doesn’t want to, and who tells you it’s a free country and they choose to hang out on the sidewalk. On one hand I am all about artists exploring the raw world, and I embrace their journey. On the other hand I’m like, “Get a goddamn job like the rest of us. Nobody you see walking past you actually wants to be working; they do it because they have to.”
Anyway, doesn’t matter. I think the percentage of those types in the San Francisco homeless population is probably extremely low. Most are legit suffering for reasons out of their control.
I just don’t see how we’ve come to this.
A slow-moving army of zombies. Thousands of them, all over the streets. Screaming outbursts. Needles everywhere. Human feces on the streets. And people just pretend it isn’t happening.
It’s fucking surreal.
Not that it’s happening. That it’s been normalized.
Bernie can’t solve this. Hell he’d break it even worse I think.
And Trump would just scoop everyone up and dump them in the ocean. Or in prison.
I don’t see a solution from any candidate in any party right now.
So I’m mad about that too.
I’m just mad.
This is not how any of this is supposed to work. Not in one of the richest cities on the planet. Not anywhere.