What do panhandling and Donald Trump have in common?

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In order to change things, you must be the change you want to see. I know. That was a fortune-cookie opener, but bear with me for a minute.

Whether we're talking about the current political climate or panhandling, the answer is the same. If you want to make it change, you have to make it happen. You can't post it on Facebook or tweet it out to both of your followers and sit down and wait for the change. It doesn't work like that. I'm not saying that you can't use social media, I'm merely saying it's not enough.

Let's tackle our very own panhandling situation here in town. People are starting to feel scared, intimidated and uncomfortable. Whether it has happened to one or many, it's happened. Whether you believe it to be true or not, it's now part of the landscape of our Mayberry-esque community.

Yup, I liked it better when we didn't have a drug problem. I sure did like it better when I could leave my doors unlocked. But we can't; this is how we live now.And if you want it to change, you have to show up, you have to get in the fight. You can't just post about your frustration then leave the conversation. Nothing will happen. We have to develop a gang mentality — power in numbers. The more people that weigh in the faster it gets resolved.

First thing that needs to happen, we need to stop giving out money. Once we do that, they (panhandlers) will move on. That said, it doesn't resolve the problem — we still have a housing and food insecure individual. In Brattleboro, nobody needs to go without a meal because of incredible organizations like Groundworks Collaborative. So maybe instead of a sign directed at the "victims" of the ask, maybe a sign directed towards the asker. Maybe a sign that says no money will be given out — instead if you would like to text to help, text "help out" to make a $5 contribution. This way, everyone can get what they need.

Another thing we all can do, is pay greater attention. Stop approaching everything as if it's not your problem. If you see someone who is being approached, stop and pay attention. Assess, make sure that no one seems rattled or afraid. I have the luxury of being a physically fit, 200-pound male. When I say no, that pretty much ends the conversation. That's my experience. That is not however everyone's experience, so I beg you to pay attention. Don't be self-absorbed — you could be helping someone's grandfather, sister, mom or brother. All you must do is be noticed, noticing. That's all it'll take.

You can apply this logic to the disastrous administration that is currently destroying this country. Yes, destroying it. The following no longer means anything: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." That principle built this country, it built this nation. Unless you are part of the Pennacook or Abenaki tribe, you're here because that is the ideal that formed this nation. Yet, in less than a year, it's all in play. All the wrong people are getting tossed out, like Brattleboro's very own Mamadou Bah, who had to seek asylum in Canada. All accounts a great man, with pure intentions, yet forced out under this administration. A 10-year-girl with cerebral palsy faces deportation after surgery in Texas. These are the people who are being affected by it.

Again, hit social media then hit the streets, make the phone calls rally the troops, hit social media again. Keep calling until the pressure is felt. Put their employment in play; do to them what they're doing to us — confuse and deflect until they no longer know which way is up and who to believe, then they'll start to pay attention. But it has to be constant and you have to keep on asking what the hell is up with that?

Fish is the opinionated morning jock on Classic Hits 92.7. He offers up his opinion at 7:50 a.m. every morning (Monday through Friday). Let's start the revolution. E-mail him at fish@wkvt.com. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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