celebration is part of the game. it is appropriate when you score a victory and should be enjoyed by the participants. but it shouldn't be premature and it shouldn't be done simply for scoring a point in a long game or by making a big play in the middle of the game when the outcome is still to be determined. a premature celebration often gets the crowd excited and they sense a victory watching the athletes as they perform their dances, make their taunting faces or perform unneeded fancy plays that often irritate the opponent to the point of giving them momentum. when the game turns and the tide goes in the opponents favor, the crowd will often boo the home team or show its disapproval in some other manner. some will even leave the stadium entirely. the news the next morning will sometimes show the losing team at the point they were ahead in scoring, the players' celebrations and mug shots, only to show them later in the game with "that look" and then show the final outcome....a loss.
i've been reading alot of headlines lately concerning homelessness and how we're scoring a victory in that fight. i've read different cities have found the end to homelessness. i've seen headlines about the federal government being on the track to ending homelessness in tennessee. they didn't stop in saying tennessee, they went on to say that president obama's central planners were on the way to ending homelessness across the united states. i've been watching carefully while many agencies in america have declared that free housing is the answer to ending homelessness and that all cities should follow this model. it's so much cheaper to house the homeless than to leave them in missions, shelters or on the street. even canada...who is typically pretty level headed and reasonable when it comes to the social service agencies they have....now says that free housing is the answer and they could very well be on the way to ending homelessness. these headlines and these announcements are just like the premature celebrations in any of the sporting events i mentioned above. they come in the middle of the fight, when the outcome is far from determined. they are happening when only some very small victories have taken place and the game is still in progress. the people making these statements fall in one of two categories...they are either looking for a headline or they are totally unaware of what is really happening in the world of homelessness and trying to end it. they make these very untrue and totally misinformed and self serving statements coming off a brutal winter when every mission and shelter in the united states that i've checked has been over capacity during the entire cold weather season. major cities like new york, los angeles, san diego, fort lauderdale, washington dc, atlanta, memphis and nashville all report homelessness at an all time high and spiraling out of control. nashville...which is in the very state where the obama administration says they are going to end homelessness, has over 6500 homeless individuals alone. one city...6500 people.
this is one of the reason we're not winning the fight on homelessness. not only are we not winning, we're losing ground, not only in pubic support but in funding. we are announcing a victory when we haven't even scored enough points to say that we're ahead of the game. we're reporting that we know how to end homelessness and the problem is under control. while we do this, news reports and op-eds and local newspapers are reporting that the homeless problem is growing at an ever increasing rate. the american public is more informed today than ever before. they have information and technology and every sort of news report and article and opinion at their fingertips. they read.....they stay informed.....they research when they want. the days of being able to squeeze a headline in a newspaper or on television and have it go unchallenged are over. the leaders of our country continue to report there is no problem. our agencies continue to mislead the public and say that we can end homelessness with a program that is financially unsustainable and impossible to produce enough housing for anyone but a small per cent of the homeless population. even the originators of the free housing program that will end homelessness....phoenix and salt lake city have now stated that their proclamations were premature and that they may have very well underestimated the severity of the problem and the total long term cost.
it's time to be honest with ourselves and the homeless. it's time we put aside all the publicity and opportunities to grab a feel good headline by saying that we can end homelessness by a certain time or date. we've been doing that for over 50 years and still haven't made any real progress. we haven't even come close. it's time to stop all the nonsense and begin to develop a common sense, no frills approach to ending homelessness. we owe it to the homeless. we also owe it to ourselves after making such a huge investment into finding a solution over the course of the last few decades. i think more importantly, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. we owe them an america where homelessness and homeless is not spoken of on a daily basis. we owe it to them to be able to walk the streets of a city and not see men, women, and children who have no place to take shelter. we owe it to them not to see the generation of children after them on the streets in the winter, vying for warmth and struggling to survive yet another day. we owe it...to everyone. so let's stop declaring victory...and finally....unquestionably...begin a real fight on homelessness.
i'd love to be in that end zone when the final touchdown is scored. i'd like to chest bump somebody when the final whistle sounds. but until then...i don't want to be booed later on and i don't want people to leave the stadium. so for now...let's just keep playing.
see you around town