Signs of the Kingdom: Move Along
By Louis Lotz
One of the simple pleasures of life is to be able to sit when your legs get tired. For most folks, finding a place to sit is no problem. Your house has plenty of chairs. Or let’s say you’re at the mall. After an hour of shopping, you enter a restaurant, sit down, order coffee. You stretch your back, maybe slip off your shoes, and wiggle your toes. It feels good to sit.
But imagine you are homeless. You have no money for coffee. Even if you did, the waitress might not serve you. There are padded benches in the mall, but try sitting there and see how long it is before a couple of mall security guards arrive to escort you from the premises. You might try the church, but your appearance unnerves the secretary. You might be allowed to sit a spell at the public library, but the librarian keeps giving you a dirty look. For some people, it’s hard to find a place to sit.
At the food pantry the other day, Bob was complaining about being rousted by the police. Bob is a gentle guy with a beard and wild hair tucked under his Tigers cap.
“So I was sitting on my bench,” says Bob, “and a cop says I gotta leave.” The bench in question is in front of a store, and the merchant said Bob was hurting his business, so he flagged a squad car, and the cop told Bob, “Move along, buddy. You can’t sit here.”
You can see the shopkeeper’s point. Bob drinks and tends to mumble, so when he plunks himself down on a bench and sits there for a half hour, not a single customer enters the store. Then he gets the heave-ho. He can’t sit there.
For people who are homeless, North America is a movable famine. We keep sending them somewhere else. Find another bench. Find another curb. Find another park. Move along. Moving along creates the impression that things are getting better and that streets are getting safer. But it doesn’t address the problem of homelessness, and it makes life harder for the people who are homeless, as if they needed more problems.
Move along. But move along to where? What a world, when you’ve no place to sit.
“Signs of the Kingdom” is written by and reflects the opinions of Louis Lotz, a retired RCA pastor who lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.