A Need for a home
Louis R Godena
louisgodena at ids.net
Sun Sep 29 15:54:10 MDT 1996
I attended the memorial service for a dear comrade this afternoon, someone
who had started with me in Millwrights Local 1121 some years ago, and who
died at the age of 35 of diplococcal pneumonia. He had a brief sojourn in
the Communist Party in early 1980 and, though he continued to battle
addictions of one sort or another for the next fifteen years, he continued
to support various left causes whenever he was sane and sober enough to do so.
He had lived pretty much homeless for the last 3 years of his life, and was
found in a junkyard in an abandoned 1979 Mercury Monarch on the south side
of Providence. Like many of the homeless, he had refused all offers for
at least temporary shelter from friends, relatives and social agencies.
I visited his "home" later this afternoon and was struck again by the human
need for richly nurturing surroundings that is so pervasive and so
fundamental that wherever we are--at home, at work, on the road or on
vacation and away from it all--we have to have places around us that nourish
our eyes, our ears and all our senses simultaneously to be able to flourish
as human beings and feel at home with ourselves.
Indeed, there's now a lot of evidence that in any kind of diminished
setting--not just in slums or in public schoolrooms 20 feet away from
rumbling, screeching elevated trains, but also in places generally
considered clean and neat and adequate to their purposes--our health can
deteriorate, and even our judgement can be impaired. One hospital study
found that patients recovering from surgery who could look our their windows
and see leafy trees rather than blank brick walls required milder
painkillers and revovered faster. In fact, they were released from the
hospital almost two days sooner than patients who had to stare at a
featureless and unchanging view.
This is surely true of us as well. Deprived of the kind of enriching,
diversified and enlivening surroundings our minds respond to, we limp
along, stranded in an almost prehuman situation. If home is a safe spot
that offers security and contentment, a place that restores and sustains
us, where we can be both grounded and rooted, then far too many people who
seem to be adequately sheltered are, in a more basic sense, homeless.
I wonder sometimes if, amid the din, sweat and tears of building a future
socialist society, we will pause to recognize that an inviting,
stimulating and supportive setting--at home or work--is a basic public
health requirement, a prerequisite for a developed human life.
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