I thought you were someone else

June 18, 2009

It reminds me of something out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel: characters working in the corporate world who try to outdo each other by wearing nicer suits, flashing better business cards and boasting of their restaurant reservations.

In the end, they all end up anonymous to one another, reaching the point where mistaken identity abounds. Characters are confused for other characters and implicated in situations they never participated in to begin with.

We wastefully spend so much money trying to stand out and be unique that we all end up unintentionally conforming and looking the same. It’s a luxury, I suppose, that can be pursued if one is employed and has a cash flow.

But strip away all the artifice, and it can become saddening when mistaken identity finds its way into places like the homeless community, where holding onto personal identity is sometimes all one has to call their own … especially when crime takes place.

This week, we heard of an altercation in downtown Ventura between two homeless men, resulting in the arrest of one for attacking and seriously injuring the other.

The suspect’s motive was that he thought the other man was somebody else when he kicked him in the face with a pointed cowboy boot.

As of yesterday, the victim was still in stable, yet serious, condition.

This is not a problem we should leave up to the homeless to clean up. In many respects, it’s our fault altercations like this have happened in our town.

Venturans, by and large, have done next to nothing to improve our homelessness problem. A quick scan of our daily paper’s message board, or a stroll downtown, reveals an inordinate level of conservative, holier-than-thou scorn and disdain to those who live without a home. It’s no wonder there’s a high level of mistaken identity — we treat the homeless like they’re inhuman.

We allow brawls like this to happen, too, because of apathetic attitudes towards establishing a bona fide homeless shelter here. But NIMBYism prevails and nobody wants one within 10 miles of their backyard. We keep the homeless out on the street.

It’s only through efforts of some local clerics and activists that moving forth the shelter plan has materialized beyond just an idea on paper. One Unitarian church received this month a grant nearing $20,000 for their awareness plan.

Spearheading this campaign, they sponsored last year a program remembering the homeless in Ventura County who died last year. They put faces and names to the people we would have most likely forgotten, if acknowledged at all.

It’s time we started doing the same for the ones who are still living.


One Response to “I thought you were someone else”

  1. mimici06 Says:

    Kudos. Well said!

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