No, I am not writing about the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ and I am sure that by now, the majority of my readers know that I do not celebrate most holidays. Halloween is the only holiday, dear to my heart, for my own selfish reasons. I know, imagine me being selfish, but I digress. The twelve days that I am referring to here is the fact that I am now twelve days from participating in The Homeless March, a march that takes place every December to honor the poor souls who died for lack of a home.
While people around the world are gearing up to max their credit cards out, indebt themselves to banks, shove, trample and bash people over the head for a ‘smartphone’, there are those who, can you believe it? Lack a home! And die! So, while you are speeding down the highway on a crash course into holiday madness, I will dress in layers, don my sturdy boots and muffler with my knit cap and proceed to grab a sign, any sign; the first sign I come to, lift it up and carry it for a few miles, trudging through the snow. I will carry it past brightly lit restaurants and glance in at people sipping wine and dining out, having fun and poking into each others shopping bags to have a peek at what great gift is intended for a special someone. Then, I’ll sigh and keep moving, lest I stumble into the person in front of me, also carrying a sign. We will brave the frigid temperatures and think that we are doing something, but we’re really not. This is all just a symbolic gesture. It really is. Because who am I really kidding? Myself? Hardly! Since, I am no longer naïve as I once was. I no longer believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. I have lost my faith in the decency of mankind. What has replaced it you ask? Good that you want to know because that means that one or two of you have managed to unplug yourselves from the ‘Matrix’, or are you just bored because it is SO cold out? Or could it be that you anxiously await that ski vacation that you have been promised will be underneath your Christmas tree this year. Congrats! No, I mean it. It is important that you have the means to go skiing. Think of the fun that you will have as you step off the lift and head for that high slope, the rush and thrill of besting ‘Killer’s Leap’.
I will wonder if the ‘deceased’ named in the sign that I carry ever went skiing? Did they ever sit in an upscale restaurant and sip wine amongst friends and fellow shoppers? Did they ever enjoy the feeling of being thought of as a person and not merely labeled, a ‘vagrant’, a ‘cast-off’, an ‘unwanted’ ‘the homeless dead’ ‘a name and an age on a sign’? I will wonder if they ever felt valued as a member of the ‘human’ race or if in their last days above ground, they could ever recall, there actually having been a ‘human’ race to remember? I will wonder if they ever enjoyed the ‘holidays’? Or were they always touted out by charities to encourage more donations and then after the holidays, relegated to the back door ‘homeless’ entrance since their ‘usefulness’ will be over, that is until next year. It matters not to the charities whether or not that particular ‘homeless’ person will be there next year or not because it is a well known fact that society does more to encourage homelessness than to discourage it.
And I bet you thought that this one was going to be all mushy about celebrating the twelve days of Christmas and how I intend to get a ‘partridge in a pear tree’. No, I will save the celebrating for those who think they have it all or shall I say, everything that credit cards can buy. Unfortunately, credit cards cannot buy what they really need; selflessness, kindness, compassion, empathy, decency, a soul, a heart.
What has replaced my lost faith in the decency of mankind? The sign that I will carry in twelve days!
As I march and trudge through snow,
up ahead, I see a glow.
Around a little fire,
the homeless built a pyre,
to mourn another loss.
And so they carve another cross.
Shelby I. Courtland
© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland