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You should approach Seattle’s homeless like you have Richard Russell

A person sleeps under a blanket on the grass at Denny Park in Seattle Monday, May 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

I’ll admit, when I heard Richard Russell say “I’m just a broken guy” over the air traffic control feed last Friday, I got a lump in my throat.

Unpopular opinion: There’s a reason we talk about Richard Russell the way we do

He was mentally ill. For me, that sparks compassion. It did for many others as well. Let’s start applying that compassion more often.

How do you talk about those suffering from mental illness currently living on the streets in Seattle? How do you refer to them? Do you talk about them like human beings who deserve dignity? Or as subhumans who are the scum of the region?

Based on many of the texts I get during my show, KIRO Nights, and the emails I receive, many of you choose the latter.

Do better. Remember, like Beebo, many of these people currently living in tents have loved ones that miss them and are heartsick over what’s happened in their lives. Or worse, they don’t.

Treat everyone like you have Richard Russell. Remember, everyone has a back story. And yes, I am on my high horse. Join me up here. It’s pretty great.

The only way to fix broken people is to recognize that they are, indeed, people. Not so hard to do, right?

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You can hear Zak Burns every weeknight 7 pm – 10 pm on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

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