Quite a title, no?
One would have you believe I am some world renowned philosopher or some damn thing from that intro wouldn't one?
'Existentialism' - is best described from the Webster's Dictionary of Current English as: noun; a theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world.
Having said that, well- today is welfare day. It may also be referred to as income assistance day, or cheque day or the one I have grown accustomed to while so enjoying my stay here in the glorious downtown east side of Vancouver, Mardi Gras.
Yes- believe it or not it has been nick-named Mardi Gras here. Why you ask? Simply put, because it's a bloody party down here every welfare day. An absolute blow out from all I have witnessed during the years of residence in this ungodly semblance of community.
In a place where addiction and mental health issues are rampant, that go seemingly unchecked and unfettered, where people are basically left to their own devices to deal with their monthly Government pittance with no interference, from anyone- even though so many of these people need just that. People for all intents and purposes have been utterly forgotten, left to fend for themselves on these cold damp streets, alone and unprotected from all things, whether it be a case of homelessness, or drug addiction, mental health or for to, too many; all of the above.
Perhaps this is the 'meaningless world' part of the description of the word existentialism that exists right here in front of me? Perhaps not and I have simply misinterpreted the word? Is what I see here not really happening? Am I just someone whom sees the people with the needles sticking out of their arms or ankles, sees the people wandering these streets incoherently so very high they would not you from Adam even if you were to slap them directly across the face? Am I the only person that can see this horror going on unabated day after day?
I think not...
Three and half years since my arrival here in the downtown east side would mean that I have now had the pleasure of being a part of forty-two welfare days all told. During this time, I have watched many people succumb to the almighty cheque day, and return to their drug of choice. While in the recovery program, with a myriad of counselors and other staff members watching out for their goodwill with the best of intentions, it still happens-often. Addiction is a strong and overwhelming nemesis. If in fact this can and does happen to people in treatment, that certainly does not make the odds terribly good for those living on the streets now does it.
So what does need to be done to stop this? Just last welfare day, I myself was very close to being one of those frightening statistics! With three and a half years of sobriety I was that close and honestly it scared the living bejesus out of me. Should I not be strong enough after all of this time to not have these thoughts, these urges to get just completely obliterated? One would assume so right? One can never assume ones recovery is ever going to be fool-proof.
I am sadly aware there are many people in the downtown east side that choose to be here and that do choose to live the way they are living. Day to day, living on these streets for whatever reason; wanting to be lost, wanting to forget whom and what they are or were. It is a choice yes, some people just do not wish to be found, for some it is that simple. For others though, those that are not completely aware of their own personal situation due to the mental health issues, the ones that have no idea how or where to go for help because of the 'disease'. They are but a statistic it would seem and nothing more. that is the sad reality of this place.
The 'Government' is aware, after all is said and done-they are the ones providing these cheques every month knowing full well the reality of some of these individuals. Knowing full well where this pittance they supply is going to end up.
So I re-iterate; " A theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world."
Is this simply a theory or is this indeed reality?
Welcome to my world.