As contributors to the zeitgeist of 21st century LA, my modern family spends endless, mind-numbing hours in a car shuttling between activities. Down from over 20 hours weekly commuting to private elementary school, to under 10 via local public district schools, we have belatedly favored options that shrink our family footprint somewhat. And in spending more time more close to home, there is less spent flying above surface streets on freeways and more biking locally and sitting through neighborhood traffic at intersections. In this revision an old plight comes newly sharpened into focus: homelessness. And for me personally as a parent, how to model behavior I would wish to teach.

It was easier skimming the surface of problems so big as to leave an individual feeling powerless to touch them. Insulating our lives in self-selected privilege provides this one huge advantage: never having to abandon a lesson of ‘hope and change’ in the entangled ennui of confessing “I don’t know”. All that self-serving packaging of sandwiches and can-collecting under the aegis of “giving back” (popular among the bastions of institutions of plenty) sidesteps the reality of living right in the midst of misery. Why can – why does – our wealthy society afford to sustain this underclass? The absence of services for the needy is unforgiveable.

As an individual, every which way you turn is wrong.   To give to individual homeless is, as claimed on NPR by Robert Marbut this weekend, to largely condone and support vice – substance abuse and prostitution. At the very least it is inefficient, at likely most, ineffective in terms of “transforming” this plight, successful really only at sustaining it.

Most of us must know this intuitively – we have to interacting with the same faces of misery day in and day out, feeding, begging, eliminating, sleeping on the outskirts of our “private space”. And all of our children know this abdication of society for what it is: abandonment by, for, to and between one another. Yowch.

As council members past and present of LA district 11’s fabled Venice Beach, Bill Rosendahl and Mike Bonin have worked hard to address the dilemma but it is larger than any one councilor’s. It is our Yang to this community’s Yin and when we prohibit our children from engaging the problem we deny them access to a piece of their whole.

Did this start or at least burgeon with the Reagan Revolution? Because harking to a mistake undertaken a generation ago, is simply denying ownership of the present.

We must make it a priority to find a solution to human misery and injustice in our backyards, and the way is contentious and confused if not confusing. It is a social imperative to integrate the constituents of our society, but I know not how to suggest to my children that we do it. It is an abiding shame of our affluence that this alienation persists.