As I understand it, the man came into the business and sat down at a table. It was at the end of the day, and he was cold and tired. He fell asleep. Someone commented that when you are cold, you just want to sleep. Someone else called the police, and they removed him.
That was recently on one of those days when the high was in the single digits. Last summer on a day when the temperature was in the high 90’s, the police were called because someone was taking a nap in the shade at the Riverton City Park on a Wednesday afternoon on Farmers’ Market Day. The police were called to the Riverton Walmart on September 21,2019, and when Officer Donahue arrived, he was told that Andy Antelope, who was eating a hot dog purchased at the veterans’ fundraiser, was not bothering anyone. About seven minutes later, Andy Antelope was killed.
The question I ask you to ponder as we prepare for the Summit for Our Unhoused Neighbors March 16-17, why is it that we are bothered by someone who is not bothering anyone else? Why do we call the police to have them removed? Contrary to being a “Good Neighbor” as told in the Bible where the Samaritan took the man he saw lying by the road to get medical care, today in Fremont County we call the police.
Why are we bothered by seeing someone who falls asleep in a business on a cold evening or under a tree at the park on a hot day? Why is it that we are bothered by someone not bothering anyone who wants to enjoy a meal on a warm fall Saturday afternoon? Why is their very humanity viewed as a threat that the police need to remove? Who is our neighbor?
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.