Tiny Minds and Small Hearts

Posted: February 11, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Compassion, Discrimination, Government, Homelessness, Housing, Morality, Politics

Every state in the U.S. has its own specific symbols: flag; state flower; state animal; nickname and motto.

Illinois’ official nickname is The Prairie State (and unofficially, The Land of Lincoln); California is known as The Golden State; Florida, The Sunshine State; Kansas, The Sunflower State; Georgia, The Peach State.

Texas is known as The Lone Star State. Its motto: Friendship.  

Unofficially, Texas likes to be known as the state where everything is and is done big (perhaps because they figure that "big is better").

Its largest city is Houston.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article from Houston’s KHOU TV-11. The reason it caught my eye was because of its headline: Council Member: I don’t want a homeless facility in my area.

The article itself was actually about a homeless gentleman who had been murdered over the weekend as he slept at a bus stop near the University of Houston. He had been described as being between the age of 50 and 60. He had been shot to death.

It went on to say that the location was in the general vicinity of an old hotel which the local homeless coalition had hopes of refurbishing and converting into permanent housing for the homeless. Unfortunately, the project – officially known as Magnolia Glen – is being put on hold indefinitely. The reason: James Rodriguez, one of Houston’s city council members, is opposing it because it is in his specific district.

Mr. Rodriguez said:

"I am not against homeless initiatives. I do support them. I just think this area and this part of my district has enough on its plate right now"

It appears that Mr. Rodriguez and his constituents have a severe case of NIMBY-ism.

However, he’s not the only one who has a "Not In My Backyard" mentality.

According to the article:

"Experts on Houston’s homeless say they can get the money to build facilities. The problem is that nobody wants them in their neighborhood."

The last sentence pretty much expresses the general attitude of folks all across the nation. It’s a sentiment which I’ve read countless times in news article after news article. Folks are okay with creating housing for the homeless, providing it isn’t in their immediate area. As a result, it wasn’t a surprise for me to see it in print once again. In fact, anytime I read an article about some city’s plans for building or expanding a homeless support facility, I’ve learned to expect folks to balk at the idea of having it in their neighborhoods.

The day I read the article, there had only been 6 comments posted to it. None of the objections were new. They were a rehash – and typical – of comments to similar other articles I’ve read.

One thing I did take particular notice of this time around, however, were the "ratings" that folks had left to the other comments. They were given as either a "thumbs-up" or a "thumbs-down." The over all "rating" results made me shake my head in disgust.

Those comments which belittled or demeaned the homeless had received a higher "thumbs-up" rating than those which had been sympathetic. Moreover, of the six comments only one of them took note of the gentleman who had been murdered. Yet, even that comment was derogatory in nature, asserting that the man’s death was being used for "political reasons."

Quite a sad commentary on the attitude of some folks from a state whose motto is: Friendship.

Texas may or may not be the state where everything is bigger. But after reading those comments, I came away with the feeling that some of its citizens have tiny minds and small hearts.

  1. Skye says:

    We have too much on our plate? What the heck does that mean? Don’t be homeless at this time… it isn’t convenient.

  2. mary says:

    I have a prejudiced view of Texas, drom stuff I have read and people who lived there or passed through. I was surprised, then, to learn it’s motto is about being friendly; would think them anything but.

    I think people on the ‘net that leave negative comments about homeless people, have never seen past the exterior of homeless they encounter and have as prejudiced view of homeless as I do of Texas.

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