A little over a year ago, I wrote this post about homelessness, and issued a challenge to anyone reading to please buy or find one blanket, and give it to a person in need. I’d like you to read that again, and please, PLEASE, consider accepting the challenge. One old blanket really can make a difference. In some areas, it could literally save a life.
Earlier today, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Lost Angels: Skid Row is my Home. If you have Netflix, this link should take you right to it. I’m lucky to not have been on Skid Row, but still a lot of this resonated with my experiences. A lot of people think most or all homeless people are homeless because of starting drugs or other choices people can make. In reality, it’s usually something else, and drugs come later. Between a cheap line of crack that will both stave of hunger pangs a few days and help you forget your horrid life, or using that money to buy a small meal that will keep the hunger at bay an hour or so, that line of crack will look tempting, even though you may know it’s probably laced with something else to make it so cheap. To be candid, only stubbornness kept me away from drugs.
That documentary goes over the high rate of mental illness among the homeless, and how Reagan-era politics in closing the nation’s mental hospitals exacerbated the homeless issue and shoved the mentally ill from the hospitals and facilities where they were getting help to a criminal system not set up to help. It goes over how Los Angeles’s law changes in the late 90’s, which were supposed to get tougher on Skid Row and offer services to the homeless, reneged on the second part of that, and make criminals out of people who were doing nothing wrong, which further disadvantaged people.
Lost Angels is a humanizing look at the homeless in one of the best-known poor neighborhoods in the United States, and I think it should be required watching for anyone who claims to have compassion for the poor and the ill.
After finishing watching this documentary today, after a few rounds of tears (several times I had to pause and go have a cry), I went outside and saw the sky was grey, and it was raining. My favorite weather. It made me happy to finally have a non-summer day. I got in my truck, put on some Christmas music (yes, in September), and headed to a doctor’s appointment for a reason that many would consider cosmetic, but that my insurance covers. How lucky I am. For a while I was lost in the feeling of Christmas coming soon, and memories of Christmases past. When I reminisce, it’s always Christmases when my dad was still alive. But one of the faces from Lost Angels flew into my mind, and I remembered Christmas 2005, and being cold and wet and how much a blanket would mean, and then I remembered my post, and decided to bring it up again, and to encourage people to watch that documentary.
Go watch it. Watch, and then think about my blanket challenge. Just one.