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The Invisible

I’ll be watching the World Cup come Saturday, and hoping the U.S. can go far. But as we watch the games and root for our teams there will be others who will be nowhere near the stadiums. Cities in South Africa are removing their homeless populations to other, remote parts of the country ahead of the 300,000 tourists expected for the tournament. The South African motto seems to be: If you don’t meet the vision we want others to have of our country, then we will make you invisible.

This is a tactic that has been done before for major events. Atlanta and Sydney removed their homeless before the Olympics came in 1996 and 2000 respectively.

Our collective will as a society seems to be to ignore the poor and to make the homeless invisible. On an obvious level this is about image, about presenting the best image possible to outsiders and making them feel comfortable or even at home. But deeper down the mass relocation of the homeless is a product of guilt. If we were proud of how we treated all human beings we would not feel the need to relocate them. Instead our guilt drives us to shut them away were we cannot see them.

What if we opened our eyes to the invisible of the world? What if we recognized the poor, the homeless, the hungry? What would we do then? What would the World Cup or the Olympics look like, and how would those who attended those events respond?

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