I was directed to your open letter through an open letter written in response to it. I have to admit, Jim’s letter made me laugh. It really did. But it also made me feel bad about laughing.
Just like your letter broke my heart a little.
Because the thing is, I believe you’re a nice person. I trust that you have family and friends who really appreciate and love you for various reasons. You’re someone’s favourite person, no doubt, because you’ve been there for them in a way no one else ever has. I bet you think of yourself as decent and not at all as selfish, entitled or lacking in compassion for your fellow human being.
I believe this because I believe it of everyone. I don’t think anyone does anything because they want to feel worse. Which is why I felt bad about laughing at Jim’s response to you and why what you wrote broke my heart.
I work with my mind to be able to see the world free from the limitations of dualism. It IS work. Really hard work. And I know this, with all the tools and skills and my strong daily intention to not limit everyone and everything into such small categories as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. But most people don’t do this. So Jim gets to be the ‘good’ guy while you are the ‘bad’ guy and the Internet has a hey-day reigning shame down on your for not knowing what you didn’t know.
If you’d known better you wouldn’t have written what you did, so I’m not angry or upset about it. You are not the problem. There is a much bigger societal issue at play, a criminalisation of poverty, which was established and perpetuated since long before either you or I (Or Jim) were born.
It’s complicated. Something as complex and multi-faceted as economics, personal, societal and global, aren’t created over-night from a single point. And so addressing it cannot be looked at simplistically either.
No, you are not the reason for the disparity we are seeing. You are not solely responsible for it and attacking you will not alleviate or change that. But you are part of it.
And so am I.
And so is Jim.
Which is why I wanted to write you this letter - and I know, the whole blow-up is ancient history in the fast-pace of the Internet, but I felt like due consideration was needed before I composed this.
I want to extend an invitation to you. Because, Justin, I know I could just as easily written a similar letter to you if not for the opportunities I’ve had to see life outside of the bubble of my middle-class, white, English speaking upbringing. I have been fortunate enough to know and befriend people from marginalised groups. To work along-side youth in care, to be invited to understand how a person experiences addiction, discrimination and lack of opportunity.
Just as your lack of understanding led you to write your open letter, a lack of resources, information or seeing anything different is what feeds and perpetuates the homelessness you are so upset by.
So I invite you to withdraw your letter and take up the gauntlet yourself. Justin, if you truly want to see a solution to the problem of poverty in the place you choose to make your home, step into the fray. Do not pass the responsibility onto others. You are resourceful, you are intelligent, you have built yourself a career. Go to the streets, get involved with those who are helping their fellow human beings. The best way to solve a problem is to understand it thoroughly. The only way we can do that is to really study and know it, to live it even.
I have faith in you. I’m certain, if you take the time to insert yourself, to see that you are not a bystander to the suffering of your fellow human being, but in fact a potential resource and opportunity to them, you can contribute to a lasting, viable solution.
Kaitlyn S. C. Hatch
When not writing, making art or recording podcasts,
Kaitlyn can be found in trees, listening to Dharma talks on her iPod, Boon.
Thusly named because
Brian Froud = Awesome.