Homelessness in the news

So, there’s a story that’s been on the news a lot this week.

A homeless man found a backpack with $40,000 of cash and travelers checks. He turned it in. When word of his good deed got out, he was honored by the City of Boston, and donations started pouring in. By this morning’s newscast, he’d raised nearly $100,000.

Isn’t that just heartwarming?

So why do I cringe a little every time I see this story in the news?

When I first saw this story, the banter between the two anchors got awkward to the point that one anchor felt the need to say, “look, just because he’s homeless doesn’t mean he doesn’t have morals.”

It’s the kind of thing I’d hope wouldn’t need saying. But it needed saying as they talked about this story.

And now these donations are pouring in. And that’s great. This guy did a good thing and I hope this fund helps him out. He totally deserves it. Feel free to donate.

But I wonder about all those people donating.

Are they also donating to great organizations like the Somerville Homeless Coalition? Are they working to change the systemic issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness in this country? Are they buying Spare Change and chatting with the homeless people they run into?

Or are they ignoring the problem. Ignoring the people.

At least, until some heartwarming story comes along. Then suddenly, giving a few bucks makes them feel like a hero.

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