On my volunteering run, I saw this person shooting up on Waverly, just off Sixth Avenue. Don’t look if you’re squeamish, because the needle is in the person’s arm.
Normally I don’t take pictures of someone in the act if they or their comrades would see me, but this person was alone with nothing identifying to indict or take away their dignity beyond what our addictive culture has already stomped out of them.
Every day I walk south on Sixth and turn that corner, I always have to brace myself for what I’ll see: an encampment, huge piles of garbage, a few police officers, . . . it changes, but it’s never pleasant.
Why take and show these pictures?
A friend who thought I focused on the negative asked why I did, but I’m not focusing on the negative. I’m holding a mirror to our culture. Shooting up is an acute manifestation of our culture, but here’s something I passed a few minutes later, on Broadway, that’s just as addictive, harmful, unhealthy, invasive, community destroying, isolating, poverty causing, and so on, probably more so because it’s legal:
I could replace the McDonald’s scene with
- Any doof
- Ad for flying or cruise ships
- Social media
- TV designed to binge, and so on
Or pointed out the Haagen Dazs next to the guy shooting up. If you buy takeout, bottled water, doof, airplane tickets, and so on, you may well be as addicted and harmful as the guy with the needle, only the people you’re hurting are on the other side of the world, displaced from their homes to access the fuel and minerals our polluting culture depends on.
Human thriving doesn’t need all that extraction and pollution. A culture we can change needs it, but we can change it. We did with slavery. Why not with pollution?
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees