Kati's January 2016 Update

“Do you feel responsible?”

This question is up for wide interpretation, but as it relates to my work with housing individuals off of the streets, I find myself consistently questioning responsibility. In terms of my own, theirs, and other agencies in Santa Barbara seeking to create change for the marginalized. 

In regard to this month’s crisis with one of the vets I’m working with, EB, I know better preventions could have been implemented. Tricky thing about the learning curve for this job is that it deals with real life chaos:

EB has been housed for about three months, but has suffered from severe paranoia ever since. Coupled with drug addiction and diabetes, EB has hit a tragic cycle of mental illness, poor diet, losing hours at work, and missing rent payments. He needs an active plan of change ASAP to receive the support he needs. He has now received an eviction notice, and our team is in a flurry to place a case management plan, find support, and ensure a positive lifestyle change for EB to keep his housing.

But who’s responsible? We all are. In the day-to-day chaos that we all face, it is up to our own convictions and capabilities to stand up and speak out. Our vision of peace and justice isn’t able to breath without our own capacity to be bold and face the flurry. To engage with justice work takes courage, not caution, and the perseverance to do good in a world where ill-will is used very effectively. Dikaiosune, the ability to know and do what is right, emphasizes that there is a distinction between knowing and doing. In honor of the recent holiday, MLK Jr. affirms, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea.”

All of this to say, we are still waiting to see what happens next for EB. I know things could have happened differently as he transitioned into housing, and with that I am disappointed. The life of case manager Paye is graciously moving forward with responsibility in tension with discernment for others choices.

Thank you for engaging with my reflections, and for your consistent support of chaotic work! 

With much gratitude,

KP