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Editorial

Mentally Ill People on the Streets: How Logical is that?

The economic crisis afflicting America and Europe is not only increasing the inequality between the very rich and the rest – however unjust, long-running and unmanageable that has been. It is also the case that the economic crisis is pushing more and more people onto the streets, making them homeless.

No scientific study is needed to confirm this. You only have to walk down the main streets of New York, and even Athens, to see it. People, men and women, ragged, impoverished, lying on the sidewalks on a few rags, with their hands outstretched and with blank stares, watching in disbelief as people walk by indifferent to them. People who are disturbed by their very presence in their midst.

I wonder if they, too, were once like us but stumbled in life? And do they see us with the same sadness, even the same contempt, that we see them?

However, among these ‘normal’ homeless people there are also many with psychological problems, who ‘choose’ to live on the streets instead of in a private or state-run shelter, even in harsh weather conditions.

They do have, as we all know, this right. A right that until now has been respected by the authorities. Only when the temperature reaches very low levels or when it snows heavily, do the authorities force them to go to a warm community place.

In the meantime, while they are on the streets, some of them create problems, even committing violent crimes, against innocent people.

But how much is it the fault of someone who has no sense of his actions?

Now the mayor of New York City has decided to do something about this problem: move the mentally ill homeless to the city’s hospitals, even against their will.

I think it’s a good decision. A society can’t have money for so much else, but not for its members. The money needed to help them is not so much in comparison to what we are spending on other things.

But this is not the first time a New York City mayor has pushed such a plan and it hasn’t worked out in the end.

The reason is that when these mentally ill people are discharged from the hospitals, they have nowhere else to go but back to… the street.

This Christmas, let us give each other a gift of love, caring, and humanity. Let’s ask politicians to vote for the funds needed to house these people.

Humanity is judged by such actions or inactions.

Don’t you agree?

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