"It's No Good, You're Surrounded, Now Put the Can Down and Noone Gets Hurt"
Well its been one of 'those' weekends and entertaining as it has been I have fallen deeply into the mire of sin. It's a wonder I dare to show my face at Mass somedays, but then on Sundays it is obligatory and God wants us there whatever we have done. There are only three moral goods that can emerge from falling into sin, even though we should never promote it and should hate sin. Firstly, falling brings humility in realising one's great and urgent need for God and for His salvation. Secondly, falling means once again we can experience the forgiveness of God through the Sacrament of Penance, because God brings good out of every human evil. Thirdly, having an attachment to sin and falling into it makes one more compassionate about the weaknesses of others. God knows, I try not to go looking for trouble but every now and then trouble finds me, takes me home etc...I hope I don't sound like an heretic, I'm only trying to show the compassionate face of Catholicism: Reconciliation with God and Reparation for sin.
Unfortunately, all this has been lost on the Community Support Police Officers who wander through Brighton pouring away the drinks of beggars and the homeless who are sat peacefully around town. Outside my window on Saturday were four homeless people sitting down against a wall, out of sight of the main road, having a can and chatting. Next time I looked out of the window two CSPOs were confiscating their cans, pouring the contents on the floor, taking their names for identity checks and moving them on to God alone knows where. I remember a trip to Barcelona I made last year, how at night lots of people walked down the street with a can of beer in their hands. I did it myself. Both the smoking ban and the ban on consumption of alcohol on the street are viciously puritan, tyrannical and hypocritical. When I went outside to talk to the officers one of the chaps who was being moved on thanked me that I had argued against what the CPSOs were doing. My main point was this: Why is it okay to get legless sitting outside a pub at a table, but you can't have a can of beer on the pavement, out of sight, even, of 'respectable' Joe Public?
The CSPO concerned told me that they had had complaints from members of the public because people find it intimidating when they see people having a drink during the day and chatting with their friends by a wall. I told the CSPO that that surely was the problem of the people who found it so offensive. Unsightliness, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It appears more and more that society is being run by stasi-esque traffic wardens whose existence revolves around the execution of council bye-laws which are transparently aimed at hounding the poor around town and treating them as social pariahs.
Meanwhile, everyone in Brighton is getting smashed in the evenings in bars across town, throwing up into the street and getting lairy. But that is okay because it is all taking place at a respectable public house for drinking. Sadly, the protestant revolution is echoing even unto this very day. Whenever I see a CPSO mercilessly pouring someone's drink away I always think of the words of Our Lord, "Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.'" I remember my Priest's homily once in which he said, "As Christians we are on the side of the crucified, not the crucifiers." The very poor know about society's innate ability to hound them, criminalise them and crucify them. It is up to us to help change people's prejudices and attitudes towards the poor. I have a cunning plan and it involves bongos, guitars and a can of Special Brew.