Opinion: Those who support criminalizing the homeless lack gratitude

As a formerly homeless person it sickens me that housed commenters are so insensitive to the suffering on homeless people and are even demanding civil-rights violations.

I am a regular reader of the Berkeleyside comments section on articles that pertain to homelessness and I am disgusted.

Here we have people who are housed begging the government to commit a civil-rights violation against the unhoused. They want the government to arrest them, issue fines they cannot afford to pay, and trash their possessions. They want the city manager to chase the homeless out of Berkeley even though it’s unconstitutional.

In the same breath, these commenters complain about paying for their housing, getting up early to work, or about having responsibility’s that go with it.

But here’s a secret: the homeless they speak ill of would love to have a job, a lease, a family, or a career. And that simple fact has finally demystified the rancid logic underlying these anti-homeless comments: an appalling lack of gratitude amongst those writing said comments.

In our society, we are taught from the first day of school to be grateful for the things that which we have. We are taught (and see with our own eyes) that many in society lack the things we take for granted. Foster kids lack a loving family. People in wheelchairs lack the ability to walk. People without cars lack on demand mobility. People lack somewhere safe to be. And so we realize that, through circumstance, luck, and access to resources that we have these things.

We recognize that a twist of fate could rob us of these things, and so we learn to appreciate what we have. And we learn to empathize with those who lack. This is basic civics, taught in kindergarten. It’s called the value of gratitude.

Sadly, the vast majority of housed commenters on Berkeleyside lack gratitude for the opportunity’s society has given them. They don’t appreciate their high paying job. They speak ill of having some place safe and warm to live in, as if it’s a crushing burden and heap invectives on those who don’t face said ‘burden’. They complain on and on about what they have — after complaining about the homeless.

So filled with the void lack of gratitude leads to, they cannot see that human beings are suffering. And likewise, they never acknowledge that there lucky to have what they have.

This lack of gratitude leads to an appalling, systemized lack of empathy. This lack of empathy blinds them to the reality of the situation at hand. Eventually, said lack of empathy leads them to construct a stigmatizing view of the homeless. No longer are they suffering, they are simply a piece of garbage to be removed from their community. They demand that tax payers who think differently from them fund policies and apparatuses of city government in their work of torturing the homeless, because alas, they want someone else to pay for it all and it sure as hell better not be them.

As a formerly homeless individual, these sentiments disgust me because I know what the reality is. Their lack of gratitude for that which they have in life makes me sick.

As such, my message to these commenters is very simple: quit complaining about the homeless, and stop demanding that a civil-rights violation be carried out by city government. We the compassionate ones do not want our tax dollars to fund the torture of the homeless. We don’t want to pay for the police man hours and jail cells necessary to conduct the torture of the unhoused. Instead of complaining, take this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday to appreciate what you have in life, because many aren’t so lucky.

Cody R. McGillivray is a Berkeley resident who is formerly homeless and currently pursuing a college education.