If the shoe was on the other foot…

We all have the right to safe communities. Perhaps we need two separate ones.

If the shoe was on the other foot…

There are so many people in our community with open hearts and compassion.

Yet why do so many feel as though their good hearts have been trampled on?

I suppose this: we want our children to be safe, healthy and prosperous.

We want them to learn independence and transition successfully into adulthood.

Some members of this family are adults who continue to require our care and guidance.

And many members of our Valley are doing just that.

I know of people who routinely scoop human poop and needles around buildings.

They pick up clothing scattered about, discarded because meth and shirts are not always compatible.

Countless others provide meals, funded by no one else.

I was first on the scene as a gentleman stumbled off the sidewalk and into the bus lane on Canada Avenue.

As he lay there, I redirected vehicles while others rushed to assist.

Small acts of kindness by each of us? You could say that. Yet, how do our hearts feel?

In my case, once the ambulance came and left, I was followed incessantly by this man’s friend.

Through the park and into the streets of Duncan she falsely accused me of stealing his money.

Downtown for the music, I was harassed and left.

Still, I, like most everyone, have compassion.

I would not want my mom, dad, sister or brother begging for money and food.

I would not want my son or daughter sleeping under shrubs and in doorways.

I would not want my cousin stripping off his clothes while the public watches.

I would not want my aunt flailing about, screaming incoherently as she weaves through traffic.

Nor would I expect my friends to pitch in and care for them.

And that is what is being asked of the community at large.

Warmland Shelter asks overnight guests to leave before 2 p.m. The library often houses them until closing.

Restaurants and convenience stores take over after that.

Parks staff, motel clerks landlords and business owners provide night coverage.

Daylight brings out the clean up crews.

We all are involved and affected in no small way.

Human rights — what are they?

Is it the right to defecate in alleyways and have others clean it up?

To run naked down the railway track?

To demand acceptance and tolerance of this behaviour?

What about the right to keep children away from drug use and its aftermath?

To live in an apartment building and be able to sit on your balcony in peace?

To leave your shed unlocked and not have the contents stolen?

To sit in the park and listen to music?

Some have reached their limit and are protesting in the street.

We need to think about why that is and perhaps offer a compromise.

I propose, for consideration, a community within a community.

Not a jail with cells, life sentences and prison records.

A closed community with people and resources focused on helping our family members be safe.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A safe place that offers more dignity to our people than what we can ever do now.

That is what I would want for my loved one. Heck, that is what I would want for myself if I were in similar circumstances.

Don’t leave me to fend for myself, not even for one minute. Don’t force other family members to take care of me.

They will find it very difficult and disruptive. When I’ve lost my mind, please take care of me when I no longer can.

I don’t want the right to live on the street and conduct myself however I choose. That is not the freedom I seek, nor would it be fun.

Neither is it fair to others who are not similarly afflicted.

It is not that I am without empathy. Quite the opposite. I want the best for the addicted soul. I want the best for me, for everyone.

We essentially are of two different worlds — with different rules and laws. And with different needs.

We all have the right to safe communities. Perhaps we need two separate ones.

I admit: it is just a thought. It is not written in stone, nor written while stoned.

What do you think?

Cheryl Trudell

Cowichan Valley

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