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. . . They Just Fade Away

One day in the not too distant future we might very well see the following Letter to the Editor in a North American newspaper. . .

Can something not be done about the intolerable conditions at Central Station? The abundance of derelicts in the most God awful conditions sleeping in the vestibule makes it difficult for the taxpaying citizens of this city to get to and from work on a daily basis. While, yes, it is true that some, and I repeat some of these individuals may perhaps be veterans, we do have homeless shelters, don’t we? Why can’t they be made to obey the law and reside in them, or at the very least not be allowed to hover in and around the transportation hub of this once great city!

Weeks later as winter dawned a series of unprecedented snowstorms struck the city and the region, blanketing the metro area in the deepest snows on record. That was when they struck, bands of well armed terrorists seizing the power generators in the train station, and threatening to blow them up in a chain reaction explosion that would do exceedingly great loss of life. A raging blizzard kept the roads impassable and helicopters grounded. The police at the station were no match for the determined fanatics. And time was running out.

At literally the 11th hour a counterattack was launched. A wave of bedraggled veterans, some armed with the pistols dropped by the police as they fled the scene of the attack, others brandishing sticks, metal bars and paving stones, stormed the station from within and without. After a pitched battle in which many of the homeless vets and all of the terrorists were wounded or killed, the siege was lifted.

In the weeks that followed, the veterans who survived were, not surprisingly, the toast of the town. They were fed sumptuous meals at the finest downtown restaurants. They were given clothing, money and promises were made to find them jobs and city officials vowed to build new shelters.

About a month later there was a story in the press regarding the latest budget crisis. It announced a hiring freeze and contained a long litany of services that would have to be cut. In the final paragraph, almost as an aside, it was noted that plans to upgrade the shelters would have to be put on hold for the time being.

Two weeks later the following letter to the editor appeared in the newspaper.

How long will we have to put up with conditions at Central Station? The odors and filth that assail the senses from the innumerable vagrants lounging around continuously must be eradicated. While it is true that perhaps some, and I repeat some, of these individuals may have been involved in the incident at the power station, that in no way gives them the right to flaunt the regulation that there be no loitering, let alone sleeping, in the station by people who do not have any constructive reason for being there.

( by Dr. Arthur Lewin, author of Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent, www.AfricaUnlimited.com )

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