Dear Editor,

Fining those found sleeping in the ramps is CRAP and negligence on the part of the people of this community.

Some are addicts. Some are homeless. Some are veterans. Some have criminal records and businesses refuse to hire them. Some are unhealthy or mentally ill. Besides earning a participation badge for those who want recognition for playing the victim, there are many “out there” for whom these are truly terrible times due to medical costs, bad decisions, scams, or accidents of the system in which we, as a society, live.

People can come together to build “The Landing and the River Front.” There is money for fireworks, community projects, celebrations, the 400 Block, indigenous peoples, diversity, and whatever else community leaders think would be “fun” and put another “look-at-me-aren’t-we-wonderful” bumper sticker on  our community vehicle. Many individuals, restaurants, business, and organizations do help and get recognized.  However, the word, COMMUNITY, must begin and end with something more sincere than a bumper sticker.

Are “they” any different from “us” just because we are on the beneficial side of the financial line. Yes, they are an inconvenience, but they are also part of this community. Let’s make them a more belonging part of it.  Let’s get to the point where we can celebrate the fact that there is no one going to sleep with an empty stomach, sleeping under a bridge, in a parking ramp, or in a car (if they are lucky enough to find one). We can do better than imposing fines on these people or separating them from community. Getting them back on their feet is inconvenient, bothersome, costly, and perhaps takes us away from other actions we would rather be doing or spending our money on. But, is this truly “our community” if we separate those and don’t talk about those who are inconvenient or an embarrassment to the way we advertise Wausau and the surrounding area.

While in the Navy (19661970), my chief insisted on helping me out even though I told him I did not feel comfortable with him going out of his way. Chief Russell sternly instructed me that we never go out of our way when we assist a fellow sailor. His words have become a permanent part of me and the way I live my life. It is ALL hands on deck, not only those we prefer to be with. That’s the way our ship stays afloat. It is a big ocean we float in and our small vessel is taking on water. Helping a neighbor find a safe place to rest his head, get an education, and secure meaningful work helps our community become a better place for all of us to be. We have excellent medical facilities, educational facilities, compassionate law-enforcement, aware government, wealthy people who care for the quality of life and direction of this area, and many unoccupied buildings.

We don’t have to go out of our way to be be better than this. Better is our way. We must simply recognize it and respond accordingly.

Michael G. Michlein, Wausau

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