I’ve been debating for a few days whether to publish this article or not. I’m fearful as coming across and judgmental, and that is not my intent.
I want to preface this article by stating, unequivocally, that I believe every person, no matter what, should be treated with compassion and respect.
I wrote these thoughts last week while we were still in Portland. I’ve since edited it and deleted everything that felt like fluff or meandering and left in the main points that I want to talk about.
Please feel free to reply to this email or to leave comments. I welcome the discussion.
Some thoughts on Portland Oregon.
1. We’re definitely not going to move here. As I’ve mentioned before, Jules loves the pacific northwest. As we’ve been brainstorming different places to live, and Portland seemed like a city that had the mountains for Jules, but also had the entrepreneurial / business vibe that I like. After being here for a week it’s clear that this isn’t a good place for us to live.
2. The homeless problem is shocking. I’ve never seen anything like it. You can’t drive half a mile without seeing tent cities popped up in every patch of grass. The entire city has homeless people. I’m sure many of them are good people who are trying to find their way, but nonetheless, it’s unacceptable to me to see this.
Philadelphia is probably 3 times the size of Portland, and the homeless problem is nowhere close to what I’m seeing here.
Sure, you will always have people with drug problems, or mental health problems, or people who are down on their luck. I’m not writing this to shame homeless people in any way, because lord knows I’ve had my struggles.
But I’m telling you, this is something that’s completely different. This is a systematic failure.
3. Inspirational signs don’t feed people. One of the internal struggles I’ve had here is how to feel about the juxtaposition of hyper liberalism and failed government.
The house next to us has a sign on the window that say “bottoms and tops, we all hate cops.” And all the businesses have signs that support things like equal rights, anti racism, Black Lives Matter and gay marriage.
Look, I have my own viewpoints about these things but if I had to label myself I would say I’m a centrist democrat. More accurately, I’m a classical liberal, which isn’t even close to what modern day liberalism is.
I only say that to give context to my belief in helping people. We all have a civic duty to pay taxes, and taxes should be used, in part, to create a social safety net and help people who are most vulnerable. You would think that hyper liberal cities like Portland would make the best use of the tax revenue, especially considering they are typically the cities (states) with the highest taxes.
But the feeling I get is that the culture of the city is more inclined to put signs on their front lawn than actually execute on implementing the systems that will help the people they so passionately care about.
So in closing, I want to love Portland, but I can’t. There are two sides to this city. There is a flood of interesting and unique people who are artistic and motivated and passionate about making the world a better place. But yet, those same people are walking down sidewalks that are grossly littered with garbage and tents and tarps.
No matter what, everyone is responsible for their own behavior. In the case of Portland Oregon, it seems as though individual responsibility has been replaced by a group philosophy of moral superiority.
It was really disturbing. I would be perfectly okay with never going back.
For context, I was a liberal republican - as far as political beliefs, I am more libertarian than anything. Live and let live. Don't impose restrictions. Government should be limited. We should take care of the earth and each other to the best of our abilities. Hard, honest work and integrity go a long way in my book.
Unfortunately, there is good and evil in this world. Life continues to sway without ever hitting a true center or balancing point. There is chaos and order, always more of one than the other. Yin and Yang as Chinese Philosophy would state it with all of the complexities of the state of this world.
The problem in Portland, in my humble opinion, is as you describe - a lot of words and little action. BLM has failed the black community in huge ways. People rallied behind it looking for hope for a better society for people of color - but the people running it were more interested in personal gain than serving others. It is the way with many organizations.
People like to talk about corporate greed, then admire famous singers, athletes, and actors who are among the wealthiest in society. Discounting the enormous risk and work people have put into building companies.
Accountability is key. This could be a very long discussion, but I have to get back to work. That's what we do, those of us who are willing to put the work in to create a better life for our families. Serve others when and where we can and try to live a balanced life ourselves. I hope you find a place you all feel very comfortable calling home. I'm sure you'll do a lot of good wherever that may be.