Friday, February 26, 2010

5-7-5 Haiku: A Question for America



Do vacation homes
Outnumber homeless people
In this great country?

19 comments:

jinksy said...

I think this could apply here in UK too. A Haiku to ponder upon...

Dave King said...

I'm with jinksy: I'm sure the question has a general relevance. How to answer it, though...?

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

It is obscene isn't it? The juxtaposition of so many of us living in the lap of luxury (e.g. 2 homes) while so many have none.

Thought-provoking haiku Dan.

Dan Gurney said...

I ask the question to my own country because, generally, I think we Americans need to learn modesty as world citizens. That said, I would invite other wealthy countries to ponder this question.

Here's what I know: I would not allow sharing like that to occur in my kindergarten: I would work hard to help the greedy kid see that he'd feel better if he shared his stuff and had more friends.

Jennifer said...

Oh Dan, I am thankful for you and the manner in which you see.

Linda Sue said...

No safe haven for the mentally ill, the challenged, the lost, the addicts- families no longer keep "the odd one" - families not picking up the slack for the lesser- there is no answer really-If I want a second piece of cake does not mean that I am slighting the less fortunate, but I do get your point- there is compassion- that's when philosophy kicks in- a sort of "well, every one has their lesson in this life" sort of rational.A coping strategy...what are we to do?

steven said...

dan "having it all" can and in my own worldview should include a sensitivty to the needs of the world around you. it's a very hard sell. but necessary as the disenfranchised and marginalized grow in numbers and needs. thanks for posting this. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Jennifer, you're welcome! I'm glad the question resonated for you.

Dan Gurney said...

Bonnie, Dave, and Jinksy, probably no answer can be given. I did do an Wikipedia search (cursory, I admit) and what I came up with is that there are about the same number: about 3.5 million homeless and 3.5 million vacation homes.

The thought always arises when my wife and I have contemplated (only briefly) the thought of finding a vacation home. It effectively cancels out any desire to have one, for me. When I was home, I could never get any pleasure out of a vacation home standing empty knowing that at that same moment hundreds of people are sleeping under bridges and bushes not five miles from here.

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

I understand your empathy and thoughts here but I don't know whether the two correlate in the way you suggest.

If you were to give each of the homeless a place to live in I wonder how many would be homeless again within a year...I believe it is more than the physical protection these people require, they are missing basic skills of survival within society and often suffer mental illnesses which necessitate different interventions.

From another tangent if all the holiday homes were non existent think of the damage to the world's economy through losses in the construction industry, tourism, and discretionary spending, and the loss of livelihoods to millions of people.

I have a thing about certain sports as being very wasteful of the earth's resources but when I think about how they support the economy in many different ways I have to reconsider my attitude.


Happy days

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn, I know they don't correlate in any practical way, only in a poetic way. There are, as you say, many reasons for homelessness, and among them are mental illness, family disintegration, and inadequate educational and social services. Homelessness is not, at bottom, a housing problem. It's much more complex.

And, as you point out, tourism and vacation are a big part of the economic picture these days, and they help people with their mental outlook, not to mention livelihoods.

With 17 syllables to work with I just wanted to juxtapose those two thoughts.

The Pollinatrix said...

I agree with what Delwyn is saying and I also see tremendous value in this powerful little poem - it's a conceptual bubble that this poem bursts.

Awesomeness, Dan!

Rebecca Johnson said...

Dan,

Wow, a very powerful haiku. And REALLY grabbed my attention combined with the photo. My husband and I are half owners in TWO vacation homes. One was inherited from his family and has intense family connections. Delwyn makes very good points above. But, when I read your haiku, for me it's not really about vacation homes and the homeless. It's about the haves and the have-nots and the great gulf that often separates us. While my family and I continue to live far below our means (I hope it doesn't look like I'm being defensive here) we could still simplify and pare down much more.

Thanks for such a thought provoking post and discussion.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Polli-- your comments remind me of the saying, "If it's not paradoxical, it's not true." The poem does have some impact, but it's clearly possible to argue the impact of it away. I do that myself.

Dan Gurney said...

Rebecca, you get it. It really is about a much larger issue of concentrating wealth among the wealthy and making the poor poorer. Over my lifetime the middle class has gotten much smaller and much more stressed-out and insecure.

I, of course, see the effects of "Reagonomic trickle-down economics" mostly in the children I serve. Children these days are so much more stressed out than they were thirty years ago.

I've got a homeless kid in my class.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Dan, Your last sentence brought tears to my eyes and deep sadness. I know that this exists, yet I don't come face to face with it as you are privileged to do. (I say privileged because I really believe that being in communion with the poor will be the making of us. I think that Jesus thought so too.)

I send my prayers for the homeless child in your class.

Love...

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Rebecca. I don't know that the kid in question would, at 5, would call himself homeless. I call him homeless.

Without going into too much detail, (to protect his anonymity) he lives in a relative's house with his mom and sibling, so he has a roof over his head on rainy nights.

His mother has no home. He has no bedroom to call his own, no bed to call his own, no father who sees him. His mom who's very young, uneducated and she works a job without much future. I imagine that before too long he'll surfing on a new couch.

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

I'm sorry I did not confirm the value of your haiku in my comment...and the contradictions and contrasts that it offered to us for consideration. I looked at the content at face value in a more practical way I suppose, but your poem had the effect you desired...it made us stop and think...about the disadvantaged, about community morality, about solutions, about the human condition...and about how we respond to these issues...

thanks Dan

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Delwyn,

I appreciate your coming back to leave the second comment. You get it, too. The Haiku was written to prod us to think.

It's so easy to overlook the suffering of people all around us and simply blame the victim, let's say, of homelessness, on their biochemistry or whatever, and not think the next thought... what might I do to help this person?

Being numb to other people's suffering is similar is some ways to being numb to our own suffering: a form of denial that is not likely to promote our well-being individually or collectively.