CBC News article – “Prince William spends cold night in alley”

Excerpt from the article:

“I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London’s streets night after night,” William said Tuesday. “Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown cause people to become and then stay homeless.

“I hope that by deepening my understanding of the issue, I can help do my bit to help the most vulnerable on our streets.”

So, Prince William recently spent a night sleeping on the London streets with the CEO of British homeless charity, Centrepoint (Seyi Obakin), in reportedly -4 deg Celsius weather.  I think this is great.  Prince William has incredible influence by virtue of his pedigree, and more importantly, his untarnished public image (at least, I don’t remember hearing any scandals involving him).  And I anticipate that this will only grow in the future, when one day he will become the King of England.

I subscribe to the RSS feed for CBC News stories, and ever since doing that, I’ve been reading a lot of those articles – including the ridiculous numbers of comments that they often garner from Canadians.  I’ve come to realize that the average Canadian – or at least the ones who read CBC news online and bother to log in and leave a comment – is actually crazier than you might think.  And will say some incredibly stupid or bigoted things, sometimes.  And yes, the craziness respects no boundaries between the left nor the right side of the political spectrum.

I ended up leaving a comment on this CBC news story in response to someone who criticized Prince William for choosing to do this.  He/she basically said that one night wasn’t enough, and that Prince William should try doing it for a month (written with some sarcasm/edge).

Here was my response to the critical comment:

“…Here’s a question for you: “Why don’t you try a month living on Vancouver streets in the cold?”  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you should.  It might not be the most productive use of your time, especially if you have a family, job, etc.  But I think we employ a double standard when we criticize Prince William’s decision to do this little bit to further the cause of the poor and vulnerable in his country.  Will it solve homelessness?  No.  Is it a step towards that?  Yes, I believe so.

We don’t need to denounce or attack people who are doing a little bit of good, just to make ourselves feel better.  We all could be doing more to help the poor, and I think the sad reality is that none of us is blameless in that regard.

Self-righteousness is by definition trying to justify our moral condition, often by comparing ourselves to others.  So unless we’re able to acknowledge that, “no, we’re not blameless in this regard”,  I think our natural reaction will be to continue to take shots at people who are trying to do some good.” (slightly edited for clarity)

I was responding to just one of many critical comments that were left on the CBC news site, actually.  If you stop to think about it, I think most of those comments are defensive in nature.  It makes sense that we would feel defensive when someone is doing something good that we probably wouldn’t do, because it exposes how we’re actually not as good a person as we’d like to think.  But that’s a huge topic in and of itself, and worthy of a lot of intro|spection and thought.  Maybe we’ll tackle that topic here in the future… one day.