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La Jolla’s Homeless

John Glionna’s “Down and Out in La Jolla,” (May 10) provided us with a valuable glimpse of the homeless in “paradise.” If nothing else, their presence here is a much-needed reminder that La Jolla is part of San Diego, which is part of California, the U. S. and the world.

Somehow the myth is perpetuated that the rich are better, more virtuous and harder-working than the poor. And that the poor are lazy and shiftless and deserve what they get. This myth serves to absolve the well-to-do from social responsibility and blinds them to the consequences of their indifference.

What often distinguishes the rich and powerful from the homeless is that the former have learned to manipulate and use the system to their advantage. Hard work is hardly their exclusive domain. If wealth were always the reward for hard work, then farm workers who labor in the fields under a scorching sun, miners who spend their lives in backbreaking toil and hundreds of millions of struggling peasants around the world would all be millionaires.

What gives La Jolla a bad name is not the occasional “tattered person in dirty clothes who comes up and tries to bum a quarter,” but the arrogance and callous indifference of La Jollans. Insecure and mean-spirited in spite of their good fortune, they lack even the basic human compassion that connects us to each other.

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Some La Jollans need to be reminded that money is the only thing that distinguishes them from the poor, and that wealth is transitory. Arrogance and lack of compassion are greater sins than poverty. When there is homelessness in paradise, it’s no longer paradise.

To quote the rock group Dire Straits: “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.”

TANJA WINTER

La Jolla

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