Garbage is strewn all over the place. Discarded, feces-stained clothing is scattered in assorted places. What must be a case or more of water bottles some half-drunk are crushed and also part of the clutter. Discarded dirty blankets are wind-blown around trees and cigarette butts both tobacco and marijuana are piled high. Beer cans and hard liquor bottles decorate the landscape.
Archaeologists that might stumble on this many years in the future would find the remains of canned goods, junk food wrappers and more. Those experts would conclude that this location was an ancient trash dump from 2023. In their attempts to learn about the inhabitants they would conclude that the people of this era were unhealthy and careless with their belongings.
A week prior this was a thriving homeless camp. It was filled with men and women that want to live lives on their own terms. Though the community has a shelter that can provide for their needs they are trapped by their own addictions and rebellions. They don’t like rules. Ironically the camp also has rules though few are expressed. Don’t steal from me. Don’t lie to me. Don’t tell anyone where I am, among others. For the members of this camp the uber eats and free clothing supply has dried up. Rumor has been received from the local do gooders that the members of this camp have been shoplifting at the local stores and driving away customers by pan handling in front of local retail shops. Without unquestioning support, they had to move to another community and begin all over again.
Meanwhile in a local church a small group is sharing the statistics. “This week we were the hands and feet of Christ. We gave out six cases of water, twenty meals, 10 blankets and the list of benevolence goes on. When asked about outcomes they continue to list the outputs of meals, blankets and more. No one asks if the “help” was in the eternal best interest of these campers? No one asks if the “help” prevented these men and women from addressing their addictions or mental illnesses. Nobody asks if the “help” was an actual long-term benefit to them. Most telling is that nobody on the distribution team can tell you anything about these men and women. They do not know their name, nor their story, nor their dreams. After the report the church claps wildly for how loving and generous this church is and they go out to eat and give a sparing tip to the servers. Nobody has changed.