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Lit Between the Eyes: “Homeless. Please help.” October 16, 2008

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Out Basket.
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Amidst the blaring and constant financial headlines of the US$700 billion bank bailout, coordinated central bank rate cuts and efforts to pump liquidity into the global economy, a sense of detachment has developed about the serious nature of the world’s economy.

To be sure, friends and colleagues have scaled back spending. A telling baromenter has been the recent discoveries of ten dollar bottles of wine at the expense of $25 favorites. Talk of the coming Christmas season has been more of “reasonable” gift cards than “unrealistic” gifts.

Still, there have not been any gnawing fears about circumstances. No concern that the house will be snatched away in a foreclosure. We’re not cutting back from three, to two, square meals a day.

Until Wednesday morning.

As I neared my workplace around nine o’clock on Wednesday morning, there was a neatly dressed man standing on the island of the exit ramp I took. By no means well-dressed and by no means shabby, he looked like a laborer ready for the day’s toils.

Until I got closer and it was clear he was holding a small, cardboard, handwritten sign which read as follows:

“Homeless. Please help.”

"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange

The man stood stock still with a gaze that looked through me. He seemed pained but grimly determined to carry on. The whole scene looked like a contemporary, colorized version of pictures Dorothea Lange took during the Depression.

[Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) was an American photographer and photojournalist whose work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) captured economic displacement during the Depression. Two of her photographs – “Migrant Mother” and “Former Tenant Farmers on Relief” – are included her.]

"Former Tenant Farmers on Relief" by Dorothea Lange


The gentleman standing on the exit ramp, with his silent desperate plea for help, was disturbing.

What are the sounds of a person so desperate as to stand with a sign reading, “Homeless. Please help”?

What are the sounds of my detachment fading away?


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