Compassion has two elements: first, recognizing the suffering and discomfort of others; and, second, taking action to alleviate that suffering and discomfort. Compassion, courage and political will were evident at the Nov. 15 City Council study session, when Mayor Barbara Noseworthy voted to fund the warming shelter at the Adventure Church.
Other councilors voted “no,” even though they were informed by city staff that the warming shelter was an accepted and legitimate use of the church. These councilors made clear that they would not support any homeless program within a half-mile from a park, school or neighborhood. Therefore, no place in Durango. Thankfully, county commissioners stated they would fund the shelter, though strong community opposition may nix this.
Where are people to go when it becomes colder, both night and day? Where are councilors’ demonstrations of compassion and trauma-based care that they once professed publicly? Based on comments in Council meetings and The Durango Herald letters, the beliefs and actions of the four seem to mirror those of so many people in Durango, who do not seek to understand the homeless and show disdain for these folks. I once thought our town to be compassionate but when it matters, not so much.
Thankfully, we have Noseworthy, nonprofits, county commissioners and many caring citizens who continue to act compassionately toward the homeless. They understand that few days in a warming shelter is true compassion and makes life just a little more tolerable.