Monday, March 18, 2019

Poor people seem to demand personal attention, just not group protests and conventional activism

A couple of personal incidents point to a subtle personal problem, and I wanted to mention them for the record.

On Monday, Feb. 11, I happened to be at Union Station having lunch at a Pot Belly restaurant out on the main concourse.  You could sit in an area cordoned off but outside the main area of the sandwich shop. 

A scruffy man, PoC, came up and asked for money.  I was surprised that panhandling would be permitted adjacent to the store premises. I gave him a dollar bill but he would not go away.  He put his arm around me.  He seemed to demand personal attention and that I “love” him. 

Then last Sunday night (as I recall), I had returned by Metro from the City and was walking along Stuart street toward the Ballston Quarter to get to my car.  I spotted a very tall young man who was familiar from TownDC and gay events in DC in the past. A man, again in poor condition, PoC, approached him to panhandle. I kept walking quickly.  After I got 50 feet or so beyond and approached Wilson Blvd, I glanced back to see if the tall man had responded to him.  He had not and was well beyond that point, probably approaching the Metro in the opposite direction. Suddenly, the panhandler started running toward me and chased me into the street, where fortunately there was no traffic, having noticed I had glanced back. 

I can judge from these two little incidents some profound resentment of many people who are “left behind”.  They demand to be noticed personally. That’s interesting.  Ocasio-Cortez has talked about their being “left to die”, disposable.  Umair Haque has talked about this kind of thing on Medium.

There’s another man, white, who sometimes sits near the Metro, and who has a sign saying he was a burn victim, although that isn’t obvious at sight. Another person whom I remember from Town DC (which has closed) has twice been there talking to him.  Interesting.  I have a takeway from these encounters, two of them. 

One, I don't like someone's capturing attention from me and replacing the persons I would actually want (even if that means "upward affiliation"). Two, if we want to preserve our freedoms and stave off authoritarianism, we need to be more open to extending ourselves.  Umair Haque has an interesting take on this. 

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