OPINION: Jennifer A. Grossman - Vagrants In Our Driveway: A Teachable Moment

“I’m calling the police,” my mother said from her upstairs office.  When I ran upstairs to find out what she was talking about, she was on the line with 911, telling them about the partially clothed adult male stumbling around the drive to the terrace where my parents and immediate neighbors live.  I took a video here.  

As my mother recounted to the dispatch officer, the man seemed “quite impaired.”  He was.  And so is San Francisco when it comes to dealing with the rising tide of drug-addicted, increasingly aggressive vagrants who are harassing passers by, breaking into homes and cars in our neighborhood, and defecating on the city streets when not in hotel rooms at taxpayer expense.

Both the man and the city remind me of Ayn Rand’s observation that “Man is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.”

There’s not a ton of upside when a half-naked, adult man in a stupor puts on a disgraceful spectacle in front of families, including small children locked in their homes (other than the one child who was whizzing by on a scooter in the middle of this episode), but there is this: A teachable moment.

A moment when the abyss stumbles down our road, and each of us is confronted by the increasingly difficult to ignore reality that we have invited the abyss in.

But, no….you can’t really mean that?  What could we, the ordinary people here in San Francisco, have done to invite this situation?  Let me count the ways.  I’ll start with five.

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A former senior vice-president for Dole Food Company, and speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush, Grossman is president of The Atlas Society.