Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours: Two Excellent Articles about Homeless Men

Sacramento News & Review had a great cover story in its most-recent issue: “The $100,000 Homeless Man.” This weekend, the excellent Cynthia Hubert of the Bee, posted a wonderful article about a homeless man named Randall Koroush, titled “‘Something is missing here now’: Homeless man made Capitol Park a tidier place.”

There are similarities between the SN&R and Bee pieces. Both are centrally about a wonderful middle-aged homeless man who died not too long ago. Both men had an impact on their community and both were beloved by their families that they lived, mostly, apart from.

Neither Russell Bartholow in the SN&R piece, nor Randall Koroush in the Bee article, were stereotypical homeless men. Each man was, clearly, an excellent person, while, of course, in stark contrast, the stereotype of homeless men is one of being filthy and lazy and dishonest and mean spirited.

The stereotype that persists isn’t completely wrongheaded. There are in the homeless community men who have checkered pasts and will cheat others if they have the opportunity. There are drunks and liars and fellows who don’t shower as often as they should.

Now, as I write these seemingly-disparaging things about homeless folk, it is necessary for me to add that every homeless person I have ever known had, to the extent of my knowledge, more good qualities than bad. Everyone, it always seemed to me, had positive qualities to make them likable if you spent enough time in their presence to get to know them.

I cannot say that of the homeless people I have known there are many that are as admirable as Russell Bartholow or Randall Koroush, I can say that a great many of the men and women that sleep in alleyways and won’t turn down a beer if it’s offered have outstanding qualities and interesting personalities and good hearts.

Some are terrific artists and formidable chess players and guys who have served their country with distinction. A couple guys I know have PTSD and are haunted by the affliction some nights when they walk the streets. Some guys I know, contingent with their gleeful circumstance of getting housing, are eager to find employment – though years of not working makes the quest for a job a hard slog.

Russell Bartholow and Randall Koroush clearly, absolutely deserved better lives than the lives they had to live, but, likewise near all the homeless people out on the streets, today, would benefit from a “better break” and the opportunity to work and play and be happy in a situation that is greatly different from their current experience.

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The title of this post is probably not the best. But the meaning of the post makes a kind of sense. It is rare to have two such great articles as "The $100,000 Homeless Man" and Cynthia Hubert's "Something is Missing Here Now" come along at nearly the same time. It is a feast!

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 At her Twitter page, Hubert says of herself that she is a “Senior writer whose work comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

Right on, Cynthia Hubert. You Rock!

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