A Time For Civic Compassion

The infant whose birth many of us celebrate this week grew up to be a great moral teacher, who taught by telling stories. One of those is the story of a man assaulted by thieves and left lying by the wayside. Several persons passed him by, but one stopped, cared for the injured man personally, and paid to provide for his needs. Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37).

This theme is reflected in early Christian writings; e.g., The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (aka the Didache) asserted, “Give to one who asks, and ask nothing in return.” 

Fast forward 2,000 years to Eugene, where early this month public employees dismantled a homeless camp on First Avenue. Thankfully, many members of our community have expressed shame and outrage at this unconscionable event. That it should happen at all is disgraceful, but that it should happen during this season adds an element of intense irony. “Your tax dollars at work!”

Providing dumpsters, porta potties and handwashing stations would have been appropriate and humane, and we can thank White Bird, CAHOOTS, Occupy Medical, St. Vinnie’s and other compassionate organizations that such events are not more commonplace. But allowing for the differences between 1st century Galilee and 21st century Oregon, we should devote public resources to more long-term solutions. To lower the cost of housing, build low-cost housing. 

Robert Roth