I believe we live in a world of understanding. But sometimes I wonder where a story gets its twist. “Holiday shoppers find beggars less than ducky,” graced the SF Chronicle recently — the tale of a homeless man who quacks like a duck and reportedly scares tourists. Somehow I doubt that’s why San Francisco slipped to Number 2 in Conde Nast Traveler’s annual survey of readers’ favorite North American destinations — a stat referenced in the article. Tourists know the downtrodden exist. The Occupy Camp, made up largely of homeless in tents, had tourists jumping out of their seats for a view as illustrated in this video I posted to Facebook shot while riding in a European railcar down the Embarcadero.
We live side-by-side with homeless people in San Francisco. We have one of the highest per-capita homeless rates in the nation. We need to work together to find new solutions, but one small step is just to put a smile on someone’s face this holiday. The homeless do sometimes smile — as caught on camera in a piece earlier this year where tourists and homeless actually united to the tunes of a New Orleans Street Band putting on an impromptu concert down Market.
There are many reflections in the holiday window during the Christmas season. My wish as we embark upon on a new year is that we find the compassion to do more outreach like the home for the holidays initiative. And that in election year 2012, we demand as much of ourselves as we do our nation’s leaders.