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Phil Christman, “Misfortune Is Not a Communicable Disease”:

No, what mystifies me is the insistence on acting like having to see or talk to the homeless is in itself a social problem, not because they’re homeless but because you had to see it. I think I’m a pretty sinful person, but that feeling I simply don’t relate to. If the person is screaming at you or following you or physically attacking you, you’re within your rights to get mad, obviously, as you would at anyone who does those things, but if the person is simply standing there and asking you for a tenner, you say “I’m sorry, man, I don’t have it, but good luck” and you keep walking. To feel anger at that person (rather than at, say, the mayor, or the governor, or the President, or God, or yourself) just makes no sense to me, except as the expression of a deep, atavistic human instinct that tells us that misery is a contagious disease.