Towards the Capital
Posted on May 6, 2015
I wanted to post early this week in order to celebrate the opening of the 2015 National Health Care for the Homeless Conference and Policy Symposium in Washington, D.C. For me, this conference represents one of my favorite weeks of the year. In the last several years, I have had the honor of providing training for Health Care for the Homeless providers from Hawaii to Florida, from New England to Southern California, and many places in between. The National Conference has become more of a meeting of friends than work, and I’m always honored to get the opportunity to present to this passionate and brilliant gathering of change agents.
I’m really excited about this year’s Conference due to the current conversation our country is having. We are talking about poverty, racism, classism, and the hopelessness that seems inherent to those denied the “American Dream,” due to nothing else but the location and income status of their parents. Recent events in Baltimore seem to have opened an awareness that we are no longer fulfilling the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to those living in poverty. There has been a shift in the conversation, and the old arguments and blaming the poor for their condition seem lifeless, if not ignorant.
Yet we know this conversation is time sensitive, and as our past shows, our collective consciousness struggles to sit with suffering, trauma, and difficult problems for the time it takes to truly solve them, preventing them from impacting future generations. Can this time be different? Can we really address the negative impact of the War on Drugs, income inequality, racism, police violence, and failing schools? The answer to this question lies firmly on our shoulders, as helpers and healers in our communities.
No one knows these issues like we do, my friends. We see the impact of these policies on those we care about. We might label them clients, patients, and consumers, but in reality they are our brothers and sisters, and their suffering is our suffering, their pain is our pain. Few in the media, government, or even those impacted fully understand the effects of poverty and violence
In this environment, at this critical historical moment, our silence is nothing short of a sin. We can find a million reasons why not to march, why not to advocate, why to just do our jobs. If we choose this path, we must then internalize that we are then part of the problem. Those that are ignorant can dismiss those we serve, but those with knowledge have an obligation to stand up and educate, advocate, and change long-broken systems based on outdated assumptions.
To those coming to D.C. this week, I challenge you to maximize this opportunity to learn and connect, but most of all to create plans that we can take back to our communities and use to confront the problems with the passion and knowledge gained. For those that are not able to join us, stay connected to us through social media (https://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-program-web.pdf), step outside our traditional services silos, and begin conversations in your communities. Few people get a historical moment where their expertise is matched with a great opportunity to improve the lives of so many people.
It is our time.