San Jose, CA Scrambles To Escape Self-Inflicted Water Damage

An opossum is reflected in a mirror
This scene was created by and is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
We'd honor Pogo, the astute cartoon opossum, if we could. But we must unfortunately make do with a more realistic animal philosopher-king.

One of the most powerful images expressed by a newpaper cartoon came in the 1950’s from Pogo, a socially aware cartoon opossum. He reported on impending warfare with a collection of creatures identified as ‘the enemy’. But Pogo, supported by his creator, the American cartoonist Walt Kelly1, had achieved a vital revelation: “The enemy? It is us.”

Would that the citizens of the world in general might be as astutely aware as Pogo was. Alas, we are still — much of a global society — convinced that the enemy, which so many of us increasingly fear, is not ‘us’ at all. It is ‘them.’

A social battle without the benefit of wisdom has been joined and seems to grow more savage worldwide. We choose fates for ‘them’ that increasingly appear to serve our purposes, but in the fullness of time, absolutely do not. ‘They’ and ‘them’ are chased out of the doorways, off the sidewalks, driven away from public parks and into the furthest margins of wilderness. All these punishments and more are considered deserving fates for those who insult us by having nothing to offer us of value, nothing we can pick over and determine at least to be worth stealing from the unhoused.

Unfortunately for us, our societies are complex and interlocked. It seems that chasing away ‘them’ acts inevitably and unfavourably upon ‘us.’ There is little or no future in demonizing the needs of the impoverished. Like Pogo who recognizes that the enemy is not them, it is us.

And so the failed solutions to battles increasingly joined identifies the unfortunate ‘them’ who are responsible for a growing world housing crisis. ‘Them’ who are to blame: the unhoused.

Pogo is a magnificently unimpressive creature (of which we will have scant view until his image passes out of copyright!). But nevertheless Pogo appears to manage a clear-eyed appreciation of society’s follies. Kelly’s Pogo claims to have seen the enemy, and lo and behold, has discovered ourselves.

How do particular worms like these turn to bedevil us? Here’s one example, wrapped in the importance of water to precious life. Read more at Facing deadline, San Jose to move 1,000 unhoused residents from waterways

Oops. Round and round we go. Again.


  1. If Walt Kelly is not a famiiar name, you can read more in this biography posted at Wikipedia: Walt Kelly