Something To Ponder

There’s something surreal about watching Ted Williams, the “golden-voiced homeless man,” recite corporate slogans on the morning news. It’s the perfect rags-to-riches story for the Wall Street age: you, too, can find redemption hawking Kraft mac’n’cheese, Hershey’s Kisses, and AT&T cell plans! Yes, even the chronically homeless have a valuable role to play in modern capitalism. Huzzah.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled Williams’ life has taken a 180; it’s hard not to shed a tear watching him reunite with his mother. But while we break our arms patting ourselves on the back for bringing in one homeless man from the cold, let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of other people — including veterans, children, senior citizens, and the disabled — who remain on the streets at any given time. And by all means, let’s not overlook Williams’ partially-blind ex-wife who raised his five children — including the son he had with another woman — while Williams was AWOL. This woman is every bit the hero that Williams is, perhaps more so. It annoys me that she’s getting so little attention.

There’s a “treasure among the trash” quality to the way look at homelessness in this country. Maybe every journalist in America will sit down for a chat with the man or woman holding the “Will Work For Food” sign by the side of the interstate. Ya think? And maybe they’ll find that Juilliard-trained cellist pushing a shopping cart or stock broker in training sleeping in the public restroom.

Then again, they’re just as likely to find the psychotic who can’t or won’t stay on their meds, the person who refuses to go to a shelter for whatever reason, the addict, the Iraq war veteran or the single mother. There are as many ways to be homeless and reasons for being homeless as there are homeless people. Every story is unique. And all I’m saying is, every person deserves to be treated with dignity, whether they have a golden voice or not. I’m glad for Ted Williams but I’m also worried for him, and I’m worried for the thousands of people who weren’t lucky enough to catch the attention of a local news videographer.

So, now that corporate America and the corporate media have stepped in to help this one homeless man, what about the rest? Could Kraft Foods make a nice, long-term commitment to the nation’s homeless — maybe by supporting some homeless advocacy groups?

Could the corporate media maybe stop covering bullshit stories like Sarah Palin’s re-Tweets and maybe devote more than just casual attention to this issue?

Could those of us touched by Ted Williams’ story volunteer at a homeless shelter or, at the very least, pick up a copy of The Contributor?

Hell, I’d be happy of we’d stop setting homeless people on fire. Or how about something a little harsher than a slap on the wrist to those who commit these violent acts?

Just something to ponder.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Something To Ponder

  1. >Yea, it was weird to read that story. I too was happy for the man, of course, but still, something kinda bugged me about it. If he had been a natural at say…mechanics, would he have found the resources to improve his lot? I know people are going to slip through the cracks, but how many are out there with valuable skills to offer, but find it impossible to focus or lack the basics to even try?

  2. >And what about those who don't have these valuable skills, what about the ones who just have average skills? What about the ones who can just load pallets or what about the ones who are too mentally ill to do anything at all? Are they just to be thrown away?Are people only valuable in relation to their ability to help Kraft hawk its crappy food and keep the Dow Jones soaring?

  3. >Are people only valuable in relation to their ability to help Kraft hawk its crappy food and keep the Dow Jones soaring?Don't ask that among conservatives who are honest enough to answer forthrightly.You will not like their answer.JzB

  4. >Worry is right. I don't know if you saw him on the Today show (since NBC seems to have bagged him first), but his mother was sitting with him and shaking her head when he was asked about whether he's concerned about staying clean in the face of all this new-found fame. It was clear that his mother is worried sick about all this.Williams has been sober for only three years, which is not a lot of time when the giant media maw gets hold of you.Early reports about Williams portrayed him as an ex-radio guy, but you don't hear anything about his background anymore. It makes a better story to believe that he sprung full-grown as an addict rather than that perhaps he fell prey to the very forces that want to make money off of him now.

  5. >Jazzbumpa:I think the new motto of the conservatives will be: "let them eat mac and cheese."

  6. >I was (like most) touched by this man's story of redemption and sudden fortune… but have said half a dozen times since that the bright light of sudden public fame has a way of wilting even the strongest among us. This man's life has taken a sudden turn for the better, but I fear a relapse will only reinforce the belief of many that our homeless are "irredeemable". Those who might prefer to have these folks swept up and hauled away from public sight will point to his case, if he fails, as proof that some of our least fortunate don't deserve our help.You see this in the selfishness of conservative philosophy. They'll point to studies that show conservatives donate more to charities than liberals, point to their church affiliations as if tithing to the 'non-profit' mega-church once a week makes them the protectors of the downtrodden… and yet their WORDS and SELFISH opinions toward those of meager means tells the real story. When you vote for folks who would deny unemployment benefits, health care, basic necessities to those who have fallen on hard times, you aren't following the tenets of your own religions, in my humble opinion.This man's story is our feel-good moment of the day, but his future has twists and turns yet unseen, I fear. (and before anyone accuses me of trying to politicize the man's story by bashing righties, just look at their actions in the past few weeks when there were opportunities for us to really do good for those who needed help… the 9/11 First Responders, extending unemployment benefits, etc. and ask yourself who was blocking that help and who was offering it…) I wish Mr. Williams the very best, because I believe his story will directly affect the lives of countless other homeless in America.

  7. >Yes Squatlo, you hit the nail on the head. And they will point to their favorite Bible versus, where Jesus said "You will always have the poor among you" — never stopping to wonder if that is prophecy or indictment.

  8. >OMG!! multi-billion dollar corporations have hired someone! alert the media!update: mom of hiree says God helps those in need. no more hiring necessary! whew! the corporation is safe!!

  9. >Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled Williams’ life has taken a 180I, likewise, get the same thought when I see one person hit a lottery jackpot: What about the rest of the Hoovervillians?Speaking of Kraft: The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will be played today. I am still wondering how many Kraft brand products cause more malnutrition than they can prevent. After cheese (the real kind, some of which they still make) and macaroni and cheese, I'm sorta out of defenses.