Letters to the Editor

Passionate about compassion

PAN’s Dec. 21, 2008 cover story told of Ryan Ashe’s desire to live on our streets. -
PAN’s Dec. 21, 2008 cover story told of Ryan Ashe’s desire to live on our streets.
— image credit:

Editor:

Re: He’s allowed to ruin our view, Sept. 27 letters.

It is with disbelief that I read Susan Pichette’s letter regarding the homeless man in White Rock.

She describes him as “disgusting.” Sorry, Ms. Pichette, but the attitude expressed in the letter is “disgusting.”

I can’t believe you are actually talking about another human being. Where is your compassion? Your sense of social justice? Your humanity? I sincerely hope not everyone who lives here thinks and feels the way you do.

There is a fine line between having a normal, decent life and being homeless, and I truly hope you will never get close to that fine line. Many homeless people are mentally ill, they need our help and support, not our disdain.

Instead of writing condemning letters, you should be spending your energy trying to find a way that we could reach out to the homeless, and not hide them.

Angie Walkinshaw, White Rock

• • •

What a heartwarming letter to the editor and all the citizens of White Rock regarding our “hobo” ruining the third-storey view.

I cannot believe a paper would print such an uncompassionate, egotistical letter regarding a fellow human being with mental illness.

Instead of picking up the phone to call a health provider, you took as much time to write these awful words that contribute to the stigma that people with mental illness live every day. And this news group appears to support your point of view by printing the letter.

Patricia Samson White Rock

• • •

I am greatly saddened by the lack of compassion expressed in the letter from a woman who is “disgusted” by the homeless man in her neighbourhood.

We also lived in that area for many years and befriended the gentleman in question. Compared to the rest of the neighbours in their view apartments, I find myself having more sympathy for a man who has no alternative but to sleep on a park bench.

And to answer the question in her letter, I would have no problem with this man living on my block. My biggest problem would be facing my conscience every time I saw him and did nothing to alleviate his troubles.

If you open your heart and mind, you will find he’s gentle and appreciative of friendly faces. In all the times I’ve seen him he’s never asked me for a penny, although he’s gratefully accepted my attempts at friendliness.

I can’t imagine how confusing and upsetting it must have been for him to find his belongings moved, as reported in this paper last April.

Michelle Donald, Surrey

• • •

It is disgusting to have to go to the bathroom in a public outdoor place. It is disgusting to have to sleep outside, where your shelter is a plastic tent.

It is disgusting to not have access to a facility where you take care of your hygiene needs. It is also disgusting when one human is able to objectify another in such a way that their humanity has been made invisible and all that is left is an obstruction to their view of the ocean.

I encourage your letter writer to be braver and more empathetic than her letter suggests her to be. Poverty and homelessness are real issues in Canadian society. No community gets to be exempt from these challenges.

I agree: Something has to be done! Use your power to talk to contribute to change in your community, as opposed to making it an issue for another community.

Jorrie Alary, Mission

• • •

It saddens my heart to think that anyone could write such a letter.

Linda Mehus-Barber, Surrey

• • •

What a shame the letter writer cannot just enjoy her view. Why not turn your eyes to the more pleasant things that surround you? In my 15 years living very nearby, I am very aware of this person. He always seems pleasant, chats with people. I have never seen him in an argument, always polite and I have never seen him being obnoxious.

The world is made up of such varieties, colours, rich, poor, in good health and some not. We really must try in our own way to get along; ignore things that bother us.

Bernice Renaud, White Rock

• • •

Perhaps your letter writer should take a Sociology 100 course at her local college and inform herself about the social issues within B.C. that lead to homelessness.

He smells because he doesn’t have a place to shower. He’s almost guaranteed to be mentally ill, and my hunch is that he is not receiving any type of treatment.

He’s not scary. Ignorant attitudes are scary. Your letter writer’s lack of empathy is absolutely appalling and she should hang her head in shame as she sits on the balcony of her ocean-view condo.

He is someone’s child. Once, someone rocked him and had dreams for him. I’m sure that at some point he had dreams for himself. He didn’t just make a decision one day “Hmm… I think I’ll go be a homeless guy living on the edge of a park.”

Christine A. Kwan, White Rock

• • •

Let us consider: This “hobo” has already had the privilege of living on Johnston Road, then at a bus stop, and now bordering a park.

Imagine, if he had not suffered the head injury that he did years ago, he might be living in an apartment with an ocean view instead of battling the elements, living without the niceties most of us consider basic, and with a washroom that would afford some privacy.

But this is neither here nor there, according to our letter writer. The focus at hand is that a disenfranchised individual, for whom our author should have sympathy, respect and perhaps even awe at his fortitude, is being allowed to make a prestigious area look “slummy.”

There but for the grace of God, dear author, go you.

Lori MacAlister, White Rock

• • •

The homeless man is not the “disgusting… scary looking” person that the letter writer alludes to.

If she took the time to talk to him and help him – as many of us in this community do – she would discover he is an amiable, harmless, kind, educated man who, through unfortunate events, has ended up on the streets.

Your letter writer has lived here three years. He’s been here much longer and is a fixture in our community.

When winter hits and you look out on your view from your warm apartment and see him below, cold and alone, perhaps you could feel some compassion and respect rather than condemnation.

Sara Tammaro,Surrey

• • •

Perhaps the letter writer should familiarize herself with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which, ironically, protects her as well. It states: “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection… in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.”

In other words, he has a right to live his life. He does not beg, he pays his own way, and is by my observation and interaction, a friendly man living with a disability.

Persons with mental illness are human beings with feelings. They have the same aspirations and, in fact, the same inalienable rights as do human beings in general.

By the way, Susan, his name is Ryan.

Judi Hughes, White Rock


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