It’s a phrase we’ve seen all too often in letters to the editor and comments on stories and Facebook posts.
We can safely guesstimate that 99 times out of 100 it’s followed by a deeply racist/sexist or another highly offensive statement not fit for print. It’s very similar to what usually follows the disclaimer, “I’m not racist, but…”
Unfortunately, this turn of phrase pops up frequently when Vernonites talk about the negative side effects of the growing drug and homelessness problems in our region. Yes, it’s a serious situation that needs expert consultation, a proven action plan and swift execution, but we must remember that “these people” are still that — people.
If you have somehow been fortunate enough to not have been impacted by the opioid wave that has carved out swaths of humanity in North America, you are in the minority.
While lower-income people are likely more represented in the demographics in the victim lists, the reality is, addiction knows no class lines.
That person rolling a damaged shopping cart down the path, full of any possessions deemed worthy and that will fit in the cart, could just as easily be you, or a family member.
“These people” who congregate along public parks and pathways to share just-getting-by tips on survival in Vernon, are doing anything they can to do just that — survive. Sometimes that means breaking into cars in a search for money to buy food or more drugs.
The desperation of fulfilling your basic human needs can create scenarios that otherwise would be deemed immoral.
This is not to justify illegal behaviour, but to bring a level of humanity and compassion to the overall quality of the discussion.
If we can look past our righteous indignation and first respond with care and positive intention, we’ll be better off as a community.