Steve Blow writes a regular column for The Dallas Morning News. He is always worth reading.
On Sunday, September 3, 2006, Steve described his ongoing encounters with a homeless woman who normally "camps" for the day in the park just outside his office where he can observe her from one of his windows.
Take a look at his essay, "She's ill and alone, but someone's daughter," at:
Steve's piece begs the question, who is really insane here? This poor woman who faces the harshness of the streets all alone? Or, the rest of us who allow our city, our state and our nation to tolerate this sort of systemic, abject neglect?
In my view, the woman may be mentally ill. The rest of us don't enjoy the luxury of that sort of justification for our behavior.
Since the early 1980s, mental health funding and thus, services have been shrinking in Texas, as well as across the nation. The movement to "de-institutionalize" most mental health treatment services has much to commend it, at least in terms of theory about treating the mentally ill in a humane manner. The problem is, legislators and other policy makers took advantage of the change in treatment philosophy to slash funding again and again and again.
Presently, funding for treatment, medication and case management has dried up to a meager trickle.
Here, as elsewhere in our society, the poor suffer because we have decided to elect and to support policy makers who continue to deny needed benefits and care to the mentally ill.
This is the issue. This is the point. This is why the woman Steve describes continues to suffer all alone. And yes, as Steve reminds us, she is someone's daughter.
Does anyone care enough to work for change? I wonder if anyone is asking the candidates for Texas Governor what their positions are on care for the mentally ill? How about legislative change that would bring new funding?
This is not just politics. This is all about morality, values and the quality of life we decide to create in our community.
It is not enough to know about a problem. The real test of a people is always discovered in the action they decide to take or to avoid.
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