Br. Bjorn, OES
The local news posted an article and video on this subject, which can be found here.
As we become more active in our work with the impoverished in our area, we have come to recognize some of the faces and stories of the people who, for whatever reason, are driven to panhandling for their sustenance. Having been homeless myself, I feel a deep connection to the suffering that poverty brings; from the lack of resources for improving one's circumstances to the denial of basic human dignity, homelessness lays upon one's shoulders more than just the burden of having to sleep outside.
During our recent outreach trips, we have seen several anti-panhandling signs in the city of Clarkston, WA.
The following is a letter sent on behalf of this monastic community to county officials in Asotin County, WA, where the largest percentage of our outreach is needed.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am a monk in a small monastic community in the Lewis-Clark Valley. We have a specialized outreach ministry to the impoverished of this area, and on our last routine visit to the usual spots (in Clarkston) where the area homeless hope for a little comfort with shame in their eyes, instead of the faces we have come to know and care for, we saw anti-panhandling signs.
Frankly, we are appalled. Assuming that a large percentage of city and county officials identify themselves as followers of Christianity, the fact that such hostile measures have been put into place goes against every teaching that Jesus proclaimed in the Gospels, as well as the codes for a Godly life set forth in the Law of Moses.
These signs go against everything that the faith many of you claim to uphold teaches, and for those who are not people of faith, these measures are an affront to basic human dignity.
Surely there are other, more pressing matters that the resources of this beautiful and great county could be used for; our children require quality education, our police force needs better training and more accountability, and our local economy needs a boost.
Why, then, have you squandered our tax dollars on further marginalization of the least among us? Is it so that you can feel "safe" at the end of the day? Perhaps it is because these actions have made it easier to turn a blind eye to the suffering of your fellow human beings.
I hope that you might reflect on the opinion of a few humble workers for social justice and peace.
All good to you,
Br. Bjorn Drakken-Schultz, OES
Reflections from the monks and nuns of OES.