Podcast — Contrasts and justice in downtown Baltimore

You get what you choose, whether you want it or not.

Contrasts and justice in downtown Baltimore


Music:  Chicago, “Saturday in the Park”


It’s The William Tell Show.  I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill.  Thank you for including me in your world; I just love to be included.

At this moment, on the one hand, it would appear that Donald Trump’s influence is waning.  More and more of his public statements are falling flat.  On the other hand, there’s tremendous controversy constantly coming from the Republican primary races in Arizona.  The Arizona primary election is August 23, so we will be in suspense until then.

My thinking for this episode may be inconclusive; I’m going to raise questions for which I really don’t have a good answer.  It will be what it will be.

A story just came to me minutes ago, on tonight’s last smoke break; I caught a glimpse of this guy Brunson. Now, this group of homeless people that I’ve been part of for the past three years, we have been moved several times in the past few months.  At the end of February, they moved us from the Holiday Inn Express on Russell Street, to the Weinberg Center, the City’s official homeless shelter, at Fallsway and Madison.  Then the air conditioning failed, and they had to move us out of there.

The men spent one week at an unused rec center.  I was one of thirty men who each had his own cot in the gym.  There were no showers, and there was only one bathroom stall, to serve 72 men.

At Weinberg, the guy Davenport had the bunk immediately south of mine.  In the gym, he had the cot immediately west of mine.  Now, Davenport drives a Jaguar, which is about the most inappropriate fact I’ve ever met in my life.

Anyway, in the gym, at the rec center, one night after lights out, and I mean it was completely dark in there; this guy Brunson came over FIVE TIMES during the night and woke us up, woke us up, asking Davenport for something to eat or drink.  Turns out Davenport didn’t even know his name.

This is a taker.

I’ll have more to say about takers, later in this episode.

I’m up to 358 words, so we may as well take the commercial break now.

[Commercial break]

After the one week in the rec center, at the beginning of July, they moved us again, now to the Comfort Inn at Calvert and Lombard Streets.  I’m going to try to include, here, a map showing all the locations that I’m going to mention.  Pshew.  There are about 100 units in this building, one for each homeless person, and it’s just unreal.  I have, to myself, two king size beds and a separate living room area.  Not to mention (Thank you, Jesus!), my own bathroom and shower.

There is no evidence that anything’s being done to fix the A.C. at Weinberg.

Now, this is not the best use of the City’s resources, but I’m not the one making decisions.

Anyway, this location is a dream.  We’re right smack in the middle of downtown, one block away from the Inner Harbor.  There’s a 7-Eleven and a Royal Farms one block west of here, and a Starbucks one block south.

The Starbucks has an outside seating area, maybe 15 feet square, and I spend vast amounts of time there.  There are lots of trees, and birds — The sparrows, lots of ‘em, who hang out there, will come right up to you. — tourists — Tonight I met a group of ten tourists from Israel. — couples holding hands, families with children.

These people are Makers.

I chose today’s music because it perfectly fits that setting, Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park.”

Not everything here is perfectly cool, however.

Harborplace, it’s one word, is in financial trouble; and The Gallery, an upscale shopping center housed inside a skyscraper, at the northeast corner of Pratt and Calvert, has closed.  The whole time I’ve been here, the entire time, a police car has been parked, with its lights flashing, at the intersection of Light Street and Conway.  That’s at the lower left corner of the map.  That’s where, a few weeks ago, a 14-year-old kid shot and killed a man who was swinging a baseball bat.

So, I think about other places downtown that have declined, and I wonder about the processes involved.

According to the Wikipedia article, as recently as 2006, Lexington Market, at the upper left corner of the map, was the place to take visitors, to introduce them to Baltimore.  No more.  There is now a constant crowd of people surrounding that place, about 100 yards in every direction, who I want no parts of.  I won’t go there.  It’s an open-air drug market.  At this moment, they’re doing major reconstruction of that site, but it’s not going to make any difference as long as that crowd continues to stay there.

Racial ideology, such as that of the Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, whom I mentioned in the blog post entitled “White-shaming,” would say that systemic injustice stole all the wealth and beauty that belonged to the people who now frequent Lexington Market, and gave it to the people who frequent the Inner Harbor.

That’s not what I see.  Lexington Market was one time mainly frequented by makers, just as the Inner Harbor is now.  It was just as beautiful then as the Inner Harbor is now.  The takers, people like Brunson whom I spoke of at the beginning, destroyed it.

Where is justice in this scenario?  Where is God’s glory?  God’s glory inheres somehow, in that you get what you choose, whether you want it or not.  And God himself does not intervene in your freedom to choose.  Makers choose prosperity.  Takers choose need.

And they all get what they choose.


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