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No room at the inn

We’re told that when Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to spend the night in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, there was “no room at the inn.” They were forced to take refuge in a stable, where their baby, Jesus, was born, rekindling the light.  I thought of this when I read yesterday on the Democracy Now website that 1.6 million children in the United States (one in 45 kids) were homeless at some point last year. The National Center on Family Homelessness, which released this study, said the child homelessness rate has jumped 33 percent since 2007. Wow — proud to be an American.

I’m also thinking about “no room at the inn” in conjunction with our local Occupy movement, which is apparently going to be evicted from its site — on public property — any day now, after bending over backwards to accommodate the requests of the police and City Council. They went so far, in fact, that glaring spotlights are now trained all night on the camp, and police are stationed there 24-7, turning the encampment of peaceful protestors and new-culture-modelers into a prison/gulag. If the police wanted to protect the camp against crimes committed by the homeless mentally ill and substance abusers attracted to it, they could have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood, but that obviously wasn’t their purpose. They just wanted to cast the camp in a negative light, preparatory to breaking it up.

The break-up will be a breach of the hard-won agreement between camp leaders and city council a few days ago that the camp could stay in place till January 11th. No reason or explanation given.

No room at the inn for the homeless, whatever their age or numbers, or for idealists willing to offer them a place in their midst, no matter how difficult that turns out to be.

A piece on last week’s “60 Minutes” showed bulldozers in Cleveland tearing down perfectly good houses no one wants to buy in hopes that the remaining houses won’t lose any more of their value. Apparently, the vacant houses attract thieves who strip them of anything of value on the ground floor, including plumbing and siding. If banks would renegotiate mortgages according to the current, rather than the previous value of these homes, people could afford to stay in them, but they won’t, so everyone loses.

Where have all those people gone? Have they found an inn?

Instead of taking these things on the chin as individuals — blaming ourselves for our “failure” to “make it,” we need to band together and put the responsibility where it belongs: on a failed system. Then refuse to be foreclosed, have our camps broken up, and just go off and die because the system doesn’t need us anymore.

Capitalism: how’s it workin’ for ya? The ones it is workin’ for will keep crushing the ones it isn’t workin’ for as long as we let them. Let’s ignore the dog and pony show of the election, Congress, and all that, and get together on this! Nonviolently if we can.

The bottom line is the inherent right of every man, woman, and child — whoever and wherever they are, and whatever they have or haven’t done — to respect and dignity. If you don’t recognize that right, in your actions as well as your words, I suggest you take another look at yourself. The practice is difficult, but it’s what that little baby grew up to preach, and it’s still the best ideal I know of.

May the peace and brother/sisterhood of the season touch you. Pass it on…