Illusion and reality on the Freedom Trail

On the Freedom Trail

Ed Hatfield came upon this scene downtown.

Copyright Ed Hatfield. Posted in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.



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Thats right, get that poor

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Thats right, get that poor man some medical attention and I'm sure he'll immediately transform into a shining beacon of prosperous humanity.

Guys like these already have

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Guys like these already have committed accidental/intentional suicide many times overdosing on various things. Society keeps spending a lot of money to save them at hospitals. It would be better to reopen the state mental asylums for many of these people with habitual issues that can't reliably take their meds. Hospitals should also be allowed to refuse treatment to frequent overdose cases. At some point saving the same person over and over from a self inflicted wound is doing more harm than good.

You're quite informed

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You sure seem to know a lot about the situation in the photo above, gosh!

Mental health services in this country are so neglected as to be almost none-existent, I agree. But judging those who need help is no place to start. Just three weeks ago Bostonians ran into a virtual war zone to help strangers; how have we gone back to being so blasé so quickly?

Most of the homeless are

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Most of the homeless are mentally ill people. They got booted out of the institutions with a prescription for pills that they don't managed to take half the time and into the streets. De-institutionalization of the mentally ill without family or group support assuming that pills would fix everything is one of the biggest tragedies of the late 20th century.

Mentall Illness

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I could not agree more. Furthermore, I am always baffled that more has not been done to solve this problem, as it is something that both "liberals" and "conservatives" can agree on from different sides. From a liberal standpoint, the mentally ill are people who need help and care and have been deprived of both through de-institutionalization. Those liberals who still cling to their 1960s revolutionary mentality that they "liberated" the mentally ill by releasing them from institutions that cared for them are blind, at best. From a conservative standpoint, these people are at the bottom of society and contribute to social ills by their very presence. A clear functional solution would be to place them in psychiatric facilities where they can be cared for and given a useful life.

Because it costs money. Is

Because it costs money. Is this really baffling? Why do you think we kicked them all out of the hospitals in the first place?


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But you know this how? You know this guy and his circumstance?

BTW: Homeless often sleep on the street in busy locations because it's safe compared to sleeping at night on the street or in parks. That's why you'll see many homeless sleeping during the day in certain locations. The presence of large numbers of daytime people and activity makes it safe. It seems odd if you think they have all the time in the world on their hands, but many homeless are badly sleep deprived, and their internal clocks are all screwed up. When some people think they're drunk or high in the middle of the day, they're really exhausted. Why don't they go to shelters? Because shelters can be extremely unpleasant, and dangerous, especially for people with serious mental illnesses, or for that matter sane people who can't deal with insane asylum atmosphere. I don't know why a better job isn't done because a lot of time and money is spent, but it isn't.

Thanks for pointing out that

Thanks for pointing out that you are not a bleeding heart. After all, we all know that caring about other people makes you a LOOOOSSSSERRR!!!!!!

Harnessing greed to help the helpless?

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In the 18th C. Adam Smith figured out how to harness greed, materialism, possessiveness and lust to create a better society. Not an ideal society - just better. We don't have debtor's prisons, an alcoholic is not assumed to be hopeless moral degenerate, women (at least in theory) are equal to men, ad infinitum. For vastly more numbers than in the 17th C. life is not "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

The uses and implementation of the natural world are magical when compared to technological civilization of a mere 100 years ago. Imagine what exists today in medicine when compared to a 100 years ago. Electronics did not even exist. Energies, knowledge and understanding are harnessed to create a material world unimaginable by either Smith or Hobbes.

Could the 21st C. be the period of humankind when we have figured out to harness another force that exists in the human psyche, and technological possibilities to help lift the helpless to a state better than abject destitution?

There will always be poor. Where there is alcoholism, drug addiction, dysfunctional families that maintain a culture of failure, there will always be people who in effect are cast offs. But perhaps there is some way to organize ourselves so that, as Capitalism organizes us to create vast wealth, some other force of the human pscyhe can help the least of us have a better life than dirty rags, shopping carts, wet shelters and sleeping on grates?

Or was that the point that Jesus was trying to make - until religion got in the way.

This seems a little

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This seems a little pretentious, what's the message supposed to be? What is Beth Israel's "Human first" message supposed to be compared to? The potentially homeless guy? Is there some sort of anti-human sentiment perpretated by the hospital with regards to the homeless man? Is it about health care? Is it because he chose to sit next to the trash can? Is he even homeless? I mean he has that luggage he's sitting on there? One of the commenters on the flickr said this picture "says it all" but I sure don't see it.

Maybe it 'says it all' if you're an 18 year old whose parents just got you a camera for your birthday and this is your first attempt delving into the world of street photography I guess.

While I tend to agree

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that Beth Israel's specific ad may not be making a comment about the man photographed, but I don't think that's what the "says it all" comments are about.

Reading some of the comments posted here (Uhub) indicate that a lot of folks see this photo and, making some assumptions, literally say that if this man were dying, it would be cool for doctors to merely let him die. I think that indicates at least how some folks feel about other humans in bad situations.

Others seem to comment on the fact that mental health services have been cut to the point of uselessness, which also indicates how Americans feel about other humans.

And really, any photography subject can be seen as cliche or trite, but perhaps the commenters were thinking about the idea of a photographer who only saw this man as some sort of art or statement and not as a human.

I wasn't looking at the Beth Israel connection at all

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I know it's a Beth Israel ad myself because I find those ads kind of annoying ("Human first," really? Are they trying to differentiate themselves from Angell Memorial?).

But unless the ads have already annoyed you, or you work at Beth Israel, or for some reason you're just a fan of hospital advertising (has anybody ever chosen a hospital because of a bus-shelter ad?), you wouldn't know that's a Beth Israel ad from this photo, unless you either squint or look at one of the larger versions. What struck me was the juxtaposition between this poster with a smiling woman looking boldly into the future and what appears to be some poor guy asleep on his only possessions on one of our main streets.

Welcome to the Best World Ever!

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This advertisement creeps me out. I see elements of BladeRunner, Orwell and Bradbury. There are two kinds of people in the world of this photo. There are the best people, or the perfected people, who are looking to a better world - literally a different world. The rest of us - the man who is down and out - are stuck on a dying plant.

The photo as a whole could be an advertisement promoting the idea that if you are perfect, no biological flaws, attractive and smart then you can leave this waste of a planet for a new and better life elsewhere. But if you are already doomed to a miserable life, well you're doomed and there is nothing to do about that. So sorry Charlie; enjoy (if you can) your mierable short life.

photo bomb?

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It might be a little trite, but it seems like the intent of the photographer is to slam together the smarmy, non-sense ad-speak that tries to capture some sort of ideal concept that we aspire to (or motivates us to give someone our money because then we're somehow better than we are now) with the common scene you see around downtown Boston of homeless people. The homeless can represent a whole lot of shit -- failure of social services being mentioned here or just in general failure of people to give a shit about other people around them.

So putting "humans first" is something that we value or aspire to (or would part with our money for) as a society and yet as a society we habitually have folks that we consider trash and leave in the street without a whole lot of compassion (as some of the comments here indicate) -- some humans are more first than others.

We call this irony.

Like I said...

By on's trite, unfortunately still very relevant and true. Especially given the comments it elicited from the peanut gallery.

There is some thing about this photo that works

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I agree with the comments that when you stop and think about the photo it doesn't add up to any thing.
But there is some thing which does work, not exactly sure that. The poster at first glance tells you some thing like "we need to treat each other humanely". While showing that we do not seem to be able to do any thing for lots of the homeless.
I also think it plays off on the angle that homeless are treated as being just a little bit less than human.
As a side note I thought the poster was for Amnesty International. Which also added to the things which made the photo interesting.


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Merriam-Webster defines irony as:
1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony
2: a) the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning
b) a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony
c) an ironic expression or utterance
3: a) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an event or result marked by such incongruity
b) incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

I've seen that man before.

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See, there's no helping that loser... so the whole sentiment of the photo falls flat in its face. He's right in front of a 7/11 pestering people for dollars. Not change, crispy George Washingtons. I work at the new Walgreens across the street so I've seen this idiot. I gave him a dollar during my break because I felt sorry for the poor old chum, and then in typical bum-fashion he saw it adequate to talk my fucking ears off, about how they keep telling him to get off of private property when he's only inquiring about rental leases, that's right ladies and genitals, the oppressed man that society has turned their back on is a business man, or so he claims. The problem with homeless people is not only do they only care about one thing from their fellow man, is that they can't quite grasp what they are in the eyes of the world.