I was sitting in Philadelphia’s market east train station late one night, bored and tired, I had just missed my train home, and I was waiting anxiously (an hour) for the next one. As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, trying to drown out the mindless chatter of the people around me with my iPod, two cops strolled in the station, and they immediately zeroed in on two people: a white homeless man curled up asleep on a back bench in a corner, and a young black kid who had fallen asleep sitting up. After harassing both for about 10 or 15 minutes, they drove the homeless man out and flustered the kid enough that he was wide awake now, so they left.
Through the market, non-profits, churches, and just people working together voluntarily, we will move forward. If people don’t feel safe and secure in their own property and possessions, they have no incentive to reach for more. When they are not taught how to think but what to think, there is no class mobility. When you see every generation before you fail and sit on the street corner, you have no hope for yourself. You’re content to work your nine to five and to instead get lost in whatever you can on the weekends. You don’t live for tomorrow or even today, you’re just happy to have that moment, to survive. When you live in fear of everything around you, you have no thoughts of what next year or even next month or next week will look like. When people don’t know if they are safe even in their own homes and communities, we all have a problem. That problem is greater than the government, but it isn’t bigger than the people.