Tuesday, July 17, 2018

what a way to trash my favorite saint

I'm not Catholic, but I have many relatives who are, and my best Korean buddy here in Korea is Catholic, too. I attended two Catholic universities: Georgetown as an undergrad, and Catholic U. as a grad student. It's fair to say that I have, on some level, ties with and an understanding of Mother Church that may, in some ways, exceed those of regular cradle Catholics (how many cradle Catholics can, off the tops of their heads, explain the concepts of immanent vs. economic Trinity and perichoresis?). So it's unsurprising that, despite being a cradle Presbyterian, I have a favorite saint: Francis of Assisi. Francis died early, in his forties, after a life of extreme self-abnegation. A series of legends grew and flowered around his storied existence, including the idea that he had an almost pagan sense of communion with living things and natural phenomena (witness, for example, his "Canticle of the Sun"). I can't say which legend does or doesn't have a ring of truth about it, but the man's mystique has always fascinated me, along with his legendary discipline and humility.

Saint Francis has a namesake in the United States: the city of San Francisco, which bears his name and holy title. I've been to San Francisco once or twice, and I took back some happy memories. Alas, these days, the place is turning into a trash heap or, as this article bluntly calls it, a shithole. Not a very fitting tribute to a most worthy individual.

The homeless problem is out of control. Experts say it “could exceed some of the dirtiest slums in the world.” There are around 7,500 homeless people in the city. Human feces is strewn across public areas. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit examined over 150 blocks of downtown San Francisco and found 96 blocks littered with feces. San Francisco’s new mayor, London Breed, observed, “there are more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here.” She says that a cleaning crew will clean up an area, but “right after they leave, maybe an hour or two later, the place is filled with trash again.”

Very sad. The place used to be a beacon of culture and, more recently, a food mecca. I'd ask "What the hell happened?"—but I already know the answer.

1 comment:

Charles said...

San Francisco has always had a homeless problem. I remember when I was there some 15-16 years ago, visiting a friend, HJ and I stepped over three homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk in the one-block walk from my friend's place to the Dunkin' Donuts on the next corner.

Kind of hard to believe it's gotten worse, but I guess it has.