Yesterday the local newspaper, the SLO Tribune, had a story on a visit that President Bush made to the Vatican.
The AP photo that was attached to the story caught my eye. It showed the President giving Pope Benedict XVI a walking stick. What caught my eye about the photograph was the caption beneath. It stated the walking stick was made by a formally homeless man from Dallas, Texas.
The photo showed both men smiling politely at one another, and then according to the story that was attached, both the President and the Pope met in the Pope’s private office.
The impression that I ended up with while reading the article is that there was a slew of reporters present in the office while the meeting was going on. And, while both men talked about a number of different topics, I’m sure that one of them wasn’t a way to deal with the plight of homelessness.
Considering that the gift President Bush gave to Pope Benedict XVI, you would think that the topic of homelessness would have come up at least once. That it didn’t seem to be topic of conversation bothers me.
The visit seems to have been more a photo-op than anything else for both men, and the gift of a walking stick crafted by a man who was formerly homeless, nothing more than a way to make both of them seem a bit more humanistic.
I realize that both of them are busy with world politics and such, but considering how many people in the world – not to mention our own nation – are living in 3rd world conditions; homelessness would have been a topic worth discussing.
What really bothers me though, is that looking at the photo; I could see in the background the lavish surroundings. The White House is just as lavish. Yet, out on the streets of our nation’s communities, people are forced to sleep behind buildings, under shrubs and bushes, in cardboard hovels, in doorways and alleyways.
I don’t know how much money is spent annually on the upkeep of either the White House or the Vatican, but I’m sure that it’s quite a tidy sum. And, it makes me wonder if such opulence is truly necessary. I know that it creates a big impression on visiting dignitaries, but what would be more impressive is that if world leaders would eschew these material things for those things which are of real value – like human dignity.
I’m not saying that they should rid themselves of these things completely, but maybe they could cut back a little.
After all, it’s their supporters who are ultimately paying for all of the baronial luxury they live in…
…and many of their supporters have very little to contribute.