September 11, 2009
Who Gets the Victim Prize?
Local news has so far portrayed poor Mr. Hernandez, the neighbor of the Safe Ground campsite, as the persecuted victim of the homeless campers. But according to a Paula Lomazzi, a formerly homeless person who is involved in organizing SHOC and safe ground for living, the campers "have apologized to Mr. Hernandez and have tried many times to make friends, even sent a priest to his house and Spanish speaking ambassador." Apparently the Bee doesn't have enough reporting staff left to talk to enough people to get a fair and balanced understanding. It's also extraordinarily naive to blame the campers for all illegal activities in a problematic neighborhood.
Mediation would be an extremely sensible way to pass the time while waiting for the court hearing. Solving our own problems ourselves is far more cost-effective than paying for lawyers and judges, jails and probation.
Of course, that requires some emotional discipline. People have to sit down and actually listen to each other. They have to acknowledge that all parties have the same rights and needs. They have to take the time to completely understand the problem, instead of jumping to the first solution that wanders through their head.
And that's the only way I know of to find the win-win solutions that mean no one gets the prize for whining.