I was walking home from the grocery store when a fight between homeless campers broke out in the middle of the street at a busy intersection. My first instinct was to tell them to stop fighting because if they chose not to, we could all be arrested if a cop showed up. There was a cyclist to my left who asked if she should call the cops, to which I responded, “Please don’t call the cops.” Others and I continued yelling at the fighters to stop to avoid attracting the attention of the police department. They eventually stopped, but only after I heard a gunshot. Nobody pulled a body from the street, but the message was received by the person who was being jumped by a bunch of his fellow campers. I felt my knees give way underneath me, so I leaned against the tree. The cyclist approached me and said, “Thank you for telling me not to call the cops. Are you okay?” I assured the cyclist that I was fine, and I was close to my home.
My first thought was not of how dangerous it was, but that if life were the way it should be, none of those people would be in the streets. Nobody would have to think about similar situations. Urban planning is generally separated into different components to confuse the general populace about how decisions are made for cities. Reality demonstrates that government on all levels chooses to politicize the components of existence, instead of operating from the premise that any human being that exists has the right to exist. This is not a discussion on abortion, but rather a recognition that people who salivate over control choose to relinquish the responsibility of sustaining the population that has already been born, which is suffering due to political gamesmanship. Most of the public wants to deny this, choosing instead to condemn people who turn to less reputable sources of income and less traditional styles of living.
Take housing, for example. Because luxury development is supposed to be considered the pinnacle of existence, so many developers project that luxury housing is the only housing that can consistently be built. Consequently, luxury housing costs constitutes most new development. As the cost of living increases, people who were living in affordable housing get priced out of their homes due to “market comparability” and property taxes. Too many people want to say, “How beautiful the new housing is!” and “Thank goodness there is a place for people to live!” instead of recognizing that there is more than enough housing for people to occupy, but it costs too much for most of the population. If any of those campers could have been at home quarantining—since the pandemic is still at play—none of that fight would have happened.
Second of all, campers were fighting over the theft of a cleaning implement from somebody else there, thereby reducing a fellow camper’s income. Without universal basic income, everyone is at the mercy of employers who are seek fewer employees while paying less, enjoying our competition in an abusive mosh pit of survival. Also, fewer jobs exist because technology is being created that eliminates several jobs, and more business owners are taking on their own administrative duties, meaning fewer opportunities for people to attain middle income work. If any of those campers had secured meaningful employment or had universal basic income, they could have stayed in the houses that they could potentially afford (or homes, because they might have been in apartments) and not been at that intersection.
Additionally, the campers also need money for food because the rise in unemployment means long lines at food pantries, and COVID-19 means fewer kitchens offering daily meals. So many people want to criticize the diets of the working poor without understanding that when people eat whatever they can get, they rarely have the option of choosing their food. The working poor have a stagnant minimum wage and a rising cost of living, which makes their choices for them, because the one luxury that most of them lack is time—time to cook, shop, store, and anything else related to diets. Thus, people without money and time eat what and when they can, while shoring themselves up for the derision from those of feed entitled to mock the less fortunate.
Most importantly, people with guns do not feel safe, and when people do not feel safe, they do dangerous things—like jump their neighbors in the middle of a busy intersection. This pandemic has caused several emotional meltdowns and severe emotional degradation. More and more people are beginning to break under the incredible pressure that most humans were not raised to endure, and even those with unbelievable resilience have limits. People are physically and emotionally exhausted. Too many people have no resources, and no prospects for resources due to the aforementioned circumstances. Therefore, people are beginning to snap. Do the negative outcomes mean that the quarantine is over? No. Does that mean that the circumstances that existed before quarantine have been alleviated? No. Consequently, many people do not feel safe because the dominant narrative feels entitled to force everybody to reconvene as if nothing has happened. Will violence consume the streets? No one can know, but people in positions of authority have had multiple opportunities to prevent skirmishes like the one I saw, and they are continuing to choose not to address the issues. There is nothing anyone can do as long as those who have the resources continue to feel entitled to deprive those resources from everybody else. We cannot force morals and ethics on inherently selfish people. We cannot force people to contend with reality that people are going to become homeless, starve, and die if nothing changes. In the meantime, more and more of us will be forced to contend with an already unraveling society that demands more while offering less.