Monday, August 30, 2010

Thinky Thoughts About Community & Caring & Stuff

This entry is not really about D/s and Leather and BDSM. But this *IS* about community.

A couple of dear friends and I have been busy discussing things recently. Without going into too much detail (as it is still a work in progress), we are formulating a plan to help ease homelessness in a particular marginalized group. The ease will only be slight, as it is a group of us who are also members of this particular marginalized group that are organizing it. The plan so far seems to mostly involve setting up a formal network of sharehousing and private crisis accommodation (that is, just people who have a spare room who are willing to care for those who have nowhere to stay for a short time).

I give this information not because I'm trying to give away our secrets, but because this is the foundation for what I'm going to talk about in this entry.

So. The boy and I are looking for a house to move in together and settle down and all that jazz. One of the things we are looking for in houses we inspect is a spare room that we can put an extra bed and a chest of drawers in, and thus have crisis accommodation for homeless folk in our network. This is extremely important to us; perhaps even more so for me, as I have been homeless myself in the past.

We already have a waiting list of people who are either homeless and have nowhere to go, and just people who are looking to move out of their current place but don't have many options.

In discussing much of the details, I began thinking today about where we would put one person in particular.

This person has a checkered past to say the least, and there are a lot of people who do not trust this person. Some attempts have been made to socially ostracize this person, and I can understand those attempts, though I do not share in them myself (I am in fact friends with this person, but I will come to that in a moment).

One of the sharehouses is not suitable for this person as there is a present social connection involving bad blood, and that is fine. These things happen, and I don't expect anyone to go above and beyond the call of duty in this matter. This network only works if everyone is comfortable and safe and enthusiastic about it.

The other (possible) sharehouse may also not work, as it is a no-pets house and the person in question has a pet.

So that leaves my crisis room, when I finally have one. And that's great, that is why I am planning to have one. From there we can help set up new sharehouses, etc. And I absolutely will welcome this person into my home, because they need it, and because they are my friend.

I know of their past, however, I believe in second chances and redemption, and I have watched this person try their best to improve. I consider them a friend, and I do care for them and have faith in them, despite their past actions. I think social isolation through ostracism is actually quite dangerous, and often only makes things worse. After all, why would someone improve if they are already outcast? Why would they seek to better themselves when no one will allow them to try, or believe in them? Why would they rehabilitate when rehabilitation is not encouraged, welcomed, or even allowed?

So while I do not expect anyone who was wronged to give anything of themselves, I am in a position that I can both care for this person, care for my community, and get a good friend out of it at the same time. It appears to be a win-win situation.

But unfortunately things are complicated.

Today I realized that should this person live with me, things get complicated. Some of my friends may not come visit me if they are living there. Some people may judge me, look me up and down with wide eyes and go "But don't you know what they did?".

I understand these things. I do not begrudge anyone these emotions or actions.

However, I will not change my mind on this course of action.

Caring for our community means caring for all of it. Looking after each other, in a marginalized group, means looking after all of us. Believing that no one deserves to be homeless, means believing that no one deserves to be homeless.

Talking the talk means walking the walk. I care for my fellow people, and I especially care for those who are my brothers and sisters, those who are in the gutter with me and my kind. And if we, as a marginalized group, turn on one of our own, knowing what the rest of the world does to people like us - what does that make us? Where does that leave the person we have thrown out?

While my opinion of this person would be VASTLY different if I did not believe they felt genuine remorse about their past behaviour, I would still try and help them find somewhere to live, even if it was not with me.

Because we are all human. Because we are all community. Because we must love and look after each other if we are to survive.

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