Monday, June 29, 2009

The Men in the Alley

Aren't we becoming just a little bit too Victorian in our acceptance of the permanent existence of groups we give names like "the Poor" and "the Homeless", as if their social status were also some sort of existential condition? I thought this while I was walking to the Cafe this morning, passing along my route the alley where those homeless men sit to drink and talk all day now the Royal Mail have fenced off their disused central office, cleaning it up for sale.

Some things in life can't be changed, people tell me. Oh, lighten up, other people tell me. If you had more fun you wouldn't be so cross. (Most of them are unaware of how much fun I'm actually having.)

But I still believe, despite my advancing years and all the political failures I have witnessed since the horror of the Thatcher years first awakened my political consciousness, that nothing has to be any particular way if we don't want it to be. If William Wilberforce and his friends could bring down the slave trade and human beings could invent machines to take them to the moon, it must be possible to eradicate the sort of privation we sentence those men in the alley to while we head to town to blow the disposable part of our wages on Play Stations and designer sunglasses.

A new world is only a new mind, as William Carlos Williams said. Or maybe we just don't care about human suffering as long as it doesn't happen to us?

1 comment:

Ralph Murre said...

oh, true
the deprived
oh, true
the depraved
but don't forget
to ask the men in the alley
if they suffer