I get why this incident is in the news. I know the Muslim-Jewish conflict is newsworthy -- it's always violent and there are lots of shocking images and smoke and rubble make for bigger viewing audiences. I do feel for the families who suffer loss in these senseless acts of violence, but I'm also more than a little disappointed in the news-as-entertainment industry.
At least 50 people die in the streets of Portland every year. Not from gunshots or traffic accidents -- those statistics are additional. These 50 die of neglect, starvation, exposure, and hopelessness. It doesn't make the news. They don't die loudly with fire and drama. They die as they lived -- quietly, unobtrusively, trying to stay out of the way and avoid offending anyone.
Portland is a progressive, generous, and tolerant community. People sleep all over the downtown area, and they aren't pushed away. We realize that they have to sleep somewhere, and there aren't enough beds. Housing costs are ridiculous. Even with our progressive attitude, we can't seem to find a place for our lowest-income population. So people die. It's much worse in other major cities. But a death is a death. It's someone who mattered to people at some point and ended up alone, shunned by others' self-righteousness or avoided by our discomfort at his appearance or illness or unkempt hair. We don't know how to reach out to people who are different from us, and the poor can't keep up with trying to be the same. So we ignore them. And they die.
On this day of remembering the dead and departed, please hold in your heart the street people who are dying in the shadows. Their lives mattered, too.