Housing Matters March, 2014

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Children are pretty compelling people for letting us really see what kinds of things we should be thinking and caring about as a community. They are in some ways the moral canaries in our ethical coal mine.

Mine are consistently getting my attention and driving me to be a better person. Some days I resist. Some days I am in awe of their clarity and hope. Today was the latter kind of day.

On the way to Saturday morning girls soccer (Team Kinkajous Forever); it is hustle and bustle on the way out the door, and anyone who knows me knows I am usually in a hurry.   My seven year-old stopped me on the stairs : Dad look at this book I got from the library! Can you read a page? 

My inside the voice head said ¦no ¦no I cannot read a page. We need to get out of here to play the Koalas (we have an Australian animal themed league).

Nonetheless I sit on the step just feet from my goal (the front door). I read the first page. My five year old piled on, so now the three of us are jammed in the foyer reading this book. One page turned into the whole book, as we read December by Eve Bunting.

It is a story about a small homeless family, their compassion for another, and their joy at finding a modest place to live. My children are amazed that people sleep in cardboard boxes sometimes.   I am amazed and overjoyed at their burgeoning sense of concern and kindness, while at the same time I am sad about the truth of what we just read together.

They do not yet know that yes sometimes people live in places people should not sleep. They do not yet know that close to their house, homeless families sometimes live in motels and shelters that children like them go to school on Monday after sleeping in a car or a shelter on Sunday. They do not yet know that very poor elders sometimes live in nursing homes even though they don’t need to because they can’t find affordable housing. They do not know that working families and people with disabilities often have a hard time paying for a place to live and sometimes when they do they have to make incredibly hard choices about what else not to do.   But they know a little about that now. They know that everyone needs a place to sleep, to be with family, to do homework, to read stories before bedtime and to keep their small special stuff. They know that they should care about what happens to other people.

They are compelling, these kids, reminding me about what is really important even in the middle of running from this to that. I am grateful for them and for all of you who also know these things and strive to make this a better community.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball, everyone. Let’s focus on the things that matter and on doing well for our families, each other, and for those who are vulnerable. We can do this.

Andrew