John Records On His Work With Homeless People
Anytime we see an adult who is homeless, we can think about the child they once were and what might have happened to them. Anytime we see somebody who is pushing a shopping cart and talking to themselves or apparently drunk on the sidewalk, we know they didn’t start out that way. They were once every bit as adorable as any other child; there was every bit as much hope in their eyes, every bit as much beauty in them as in our own children. Something happened to them, probably something awful, probably more than once, that broke them and brought them to their sorry state. They were once children who didn’t get a fair break. So let’s honor who they were. Let’s at least give them a fair break now.
There was a point, during the disaster, when everybody thought that the hurricane had passed and the worst was over. Then the levees broke — not from storm surge, engineers now think, but because the soil beneath the concrete walls was too weak. Nobody was there to help when the water started rising — a foot a minute in some places, I’ve been told.
Once, Mrs. Bernadette described the effect to me: “Have you ever seen a crow in flight, and you saw its feet pulled up under it as it rowed itself to wherever it was going? When I get the laughing gas, I feel like those helpless feet being carried along underneath that beautiful bird. It’s nice to let something else take over for a while. The world is too much with us.”