What to do with society’s misbegotten? The downtrodden, the poor, the addicted, the addled are all part of the world we live in. Always have been, likely always will be.
I recall reading a comment years ago by a man who was high in the Soviet hierarchy in Stalinist days – I cannot recall who it was – and he noted that when the revolution came they convinced themselves that the bums would go, once they were provided the material benefits of an egalitarian society. To the surprise of the party the bums did not go. They were still there. His only conclusion was that they were there, as bums, because they chose to be bums.
There is an implied freedom in ‘bumdom’.
And this all, of course, leads quite naturally to Victoria’s so-called Tent City: a square of public space that has been co-opted by an ever-increasing group of indigents and ostensibly ‘homeless’ folk as their own little bit of squalor in an otherwise pleasing little city.
It has become dirty, nasty, and violent, if reports are to be believed, and I suspect they are. Those who reside in the area are aghast as this ‘thing’ continues to exist. It has its supporters, some souls who believe the folk therein are genuinely needy and a compassionate society must ‘care’ for them. Our lame-ass judiciary (lame-ass and judiciary seems like a tautology at times) seems to side with the placators and will not order the lot to move on.
This is to say, shelter has been provided for the genuinely needy and many have opted to go there – to be safe – to be clean. Who are the rest? Why would anybody willingly stay in suck a place that has come to resemble the shacktowns of Rio? Well, mainly, I suspect, there is an implied ‘freedom’ in being able to carry on being dysfunctional; lots of booze, lots of dope and lots of sex, I suspect.
Why hasn’t the provincial government done something about it? It has been aptly observed that if the squalid mess was in Vancouver – well, it wouldn’t be. The province would address it. But since it is in Victoria, and even though the Legislature sits in Victoria, the government has consistently proved it doesn’t give a flying fuck about the various plights of BC’s capital.
And so it stays. And festers a little more each day.
And some people are happy with that. People who have apparently chosen to be bums.