Letter: No cost to showing respect, decency to Salmon Arm’s homeless population

Writer asks you to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone living on the street

Just like any other city in B.C., Salmon Arm is no stranger to the homeless population.

Some say they’re a nuisance, while others prefer the term ‘strangers’ to refer to those less fortunate than the middle class. But for you who reads this, whoever you may be, my question is a simple one: what is the difference between those who are cold on the streets, and the person you smiled at once in the hallways? Or perhaps the one you held the door open for that one time? Maybe even the one who held the door open for you? Were they the same kind of stranger as I hear everyone complaining about? Would you treat them with the same respect, the same dignity, as one who perhaps couldn’t afford their three meals per day, let alone a haircut? If not, then why? Tell me, you, who spend most, if not all of your hours in the warm, welcoming comfort of a heated home. You who sleeps every night on a soft, cushioned bed. You who has no faults in your own mind, and yet is so quick to judge those who cannot help but be poor; those who you don’t even bother to know anything about.

Read more: Salmon Arm restaurant helps keep homeless people warm

Read more: Five years ago, homeless man ‘had everything’

Read more: Homeless tenters must move for four-laning preparation

Consider this: If you were the person on the corner of Ross Street, or the one in front of No-frills, or dare I say, one of the dozens that have occupied Alexander, how would you want the public to view you? With dignity? Respect, perhaps? Sympathy, kindness, generosity, sadness, empathy, compassion, care, even a little love to stir the pot?

Stop and think about it: There is no gain in casting out these people; they are human beings just like you and I. Don’t put them down, but instead choose to grow the community and show the homeless the respect they need. Whether they deserve it or not isn’t up for debate; it’s what they need that will ultimately contribute to a better Salmon Arm. Claiming that you have ‘nothing to give’ is a lie, because it will cost you nothing to give the homeless the most priceless present of all: the gift of respect and a little human decency.

Joel Hiemstra

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