The Homeless Journey Along Route 66

The plight of tenant farmers, who became homeless during the dust bowl era, during the great depression, was dramatized in John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which was later turned into a movie.  The struggles of the Joad Family, the main characters, reflect much of what’s happening today in the homeless community.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grapes_of_Wrath

Just as Steinbeck familiarized himself with the migrant workers he used for his novel by visiting migrant camps in California,  I get the grist for my mill from by hanging out with the homeless in Levittown, PA.

In the Steinbeck novel, the Joad family became homeless and had to pack up and drive their modified Hudson and hit the road, looking for work.  They lost their home because the drought destroyed their crops and they defaulted on a bank loan.  In their case, homelessness was a result of natural causes and economics, which is a common reason for homelessness today.

On their journey along Route 66, heading to what they believed would be the promised land, they camped in tent cities.  Many others were in the same boat and there is a mass exodus going west.  Along the way they meet other homeless people with whom, like the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA, they exchange information.  By word of mouth, they met people who were returning from California who told them that the prospects there are not so good.

Nonetheless, the Joads pressed on; they had nowhere else to go.

History repeats itself.  There are many similarities between the homeless Steinbeck depicted in 1939 and today.  Like the homeless today, they run into obstacles.

In the novel, the Joads find it difficult to find work that will sustain them.  There are more people looking for work than there is work.  Those hiring people take advantage of the situation, according to the story, and exploit the migrant workers.

Life is tough for the average Joad.  Word is the big farms conspired to get a monopoly.  And the government created an economic mess with its sick policy of limiting production, even burning crops to increase prices!  All that wasted food when there are hungry people!

The Joads scramble to find a suitable place to stay.  They find Weedpatch Camp,  a utility-supplied camp, run by a government agency under FDR’s New Deal, and discover that, like the Levittown shelter which has a long waiting line to get in, doesn’t have enough resources to care for all the needy families.  One thing it did is protect the migrants from harassment from California deputies.  Likewise, the homeless in the homeless shelter don’t have to be worried about being evicted by the authorities.

Yet the Joads and company persevere.  When their dwelling becomes flooded, they move into an abandoned barn on higher ground.

And they help one another.  Rose of Sharon keeps a man from starving by giving him her breast milk.

The homeless in places such as lower Bucks County, PA face challenges, much like the Joads.  They need to work together like the characters in the Grapes of Wrath, and care for one another.

As a community, we can help the homeless, give them a hand up.   Camp Purgatory, in Ontario, California is an example of doing good for the homeless.  Unlike Weedpatch Camp in Steinbeck’s novel, which lacked resources, the authorities in Ontario had the wisdom to keep the camp within its carrying capacity by limiting the occupants to local people who have become homeless.   It’s a model for an official homeless camp.

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/18/local/me-tents18

If every community would provide a place like Camp Purgatory, the homeless and the rest of the community would be better off.  In Bucks County, Gimmee Shelter was created to this end.

http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

 

Knock Them Out of The Park

The recent ruckus between some homeless people at the public library in Levittown, PA  is just another excuse to “knock them out of the park.”

To some authorities in Bucks County, PA, keeping the homeless out of sight and out of mind is a game.  They won’t be happy until “it’s going, going, going… out of the park! It’s a home run!”

The establishment in Bucks County has been bent on getting rid of what they consider an eyesore — the homeless.  Jihad Jane, the local librarian, and other “pillars” in the community, would like to drive the homeless away, the same way Israel’s enemies want to drive them off the map.  In Buck’s County, the homeless are considered a nuisance, and by fiat, nuisance laws are made against them.

The latest strategy is to, at taxpayer’s expense, move the small bus shelter that the homeless use on almost a daily basis to be transported to community meals.  The lame argument is that they sit on the curb on the outskirts of the library parking lot, allegedly interfering with people parking and that they sit on the grass outside the bus shelter, just outside, adjacent to the library building, where they can get out of the sun in the summer.

The point is, the recent ruckus is just another excuse to appease those want to send the homeless to the moon, next to Alice Crampton.  http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=To+the+Moon+Alice+Honeymooners&view=detailv2&&&id=813076B9EF86A9129244343D51281EA98640E7D4&selectedIndex=3&ccid=Z0ZDKY88&simid=607996412851916380&thid=JN.QphsKfugTdUXNlayfQPuhA&ajaxhist=0

Maybe someday, if there’s another space flight to the moon, we can erect a monument to the homeless there.  Words such as “they were a world apart” can be etched into stone.

Like the pre civil rights south, the homeless are judged by the way they live.  People who don’t have a home are considered by some to be a second class citizen.

“2 My brothers,[a] show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”

-James 2, 1-5

The homeless need to be understood and given a chance, like the rest of society.  In Bucks County, people connect “mental illness” and various social problems with homelessness.  It’s like playing Marco Polo.

“Marco”

“Polo”

“Homeless”

“Nutcase

or

“Homeless”

“Criminal”

Holy word association, Batman!

Because some people don’t want the homeless in their exclusive, private club — and they think the library is their personal property — the taxpayer will have to foot the bill for the senseless whim to move the bus stop and have the homeless picked up for their meals out somewhere in the reaches of the parking lot, which is not very good  ergonomically, for anyone.

This money could be put to better use.  Maybe building a new shelter (the old one has a long waiting line to get in), or some land with some plumbing to make a home for the homeless similar to the one in Ontario, California?

Homelessness is a national problem.  The homeless population is increasing, mainly unofficially (much does not get reported).  Cities and towns are scrambling to deal with the problem.  One place in California, which I reported in my last blog, welcomes local people who have become homeless.  Those from out of town have had to hit the road, Jack… and wander like milkweeds to find a place to live.

Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless, a recently created, nascent non profit, plans to accommodate the homeless so they can feel at home, without the man hassling them. 

http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

We need a spirit of cooperation between the community and the homeless, for the betterment of both.  The impediments in Bucks County are driven by fear, misunderstanding, and lack of compassion.  We can do better.

As the Youngbloods sang:

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

To read and hear the rest of the lyrics:  http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_youngbloods/get_together.html

This song was from the “love and peace” generation.  Talk is cheap.  Let’s practice what we preach.

“If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

–James 2:16

For those of you in Doylestown and Harrisburg, this is about Pharisaism.   https://www.question.com/dictionary/pharisaism.html

You say you want to help the homeless, but all you do is fill the coffers of mental health providers with taxpayer money and kowtow to the pseudo environmentalists. Case in point, banning resource harvesting on state lands, which, State rep Tina Davis admitted in an email, this harvesting helps the economy but they must “save the environment.”  She, the governor, and their partners in crime may as well hand out pink skips and throw people out on the street.  Of course then they have a shot of going to La-La Land.

Let’s look at the real world and have real solutions to problems, as they did at the official homeless camp in Ontario, California.

Let’s get the politicians for whom talk is cheap out of here!  Keep the homeless in the game.  Give them a chance!

Finding Our Way Back to Kansas

In my last blog, I mentioned an upcoming meeting of the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN), which was held at the public library in Levittown, PA today with the librarian to address problems with the homeless who frequent the library.

After a recent ruckus between some homeless people who were waiting for the AHTN bus just outside the building, the library reviewed video and banned one woman from all libraries in the Bucks County, PA system for six months.

The recent disturbance was an example of the occasional blow ups among some homeless people.  After the meeting, an advocate from AHTN talked to some of the regular homeless folks who hang out at the Veterans’ Memorial just outside the library.

Although local authorities know who has been causing occasional problems, the homeless have been grouped together in the incidents.  Historically, addicts from local recovery houses have been causing problems at the memorial, and the library, much more so than the homeless.  And again, it was just a few individuals in the homeless community who created problems.

The AHTN advocate said that there’s been a lot of negative things going on and that the group is “under surveillance.”  I’m not sure exactly what she means, but it’s understandable that occasionally the local police, which has jurisdiction at the memorial, started visiting the memorial more frequently in light of recent problems.   To preserve and respect the memorial, homeless regulars came to a consensus to make rules.

One rule is, “no booze or drugs”.  Period.  Zero tolerance.  And if someone starts problems, the group, known ironically as “The Memorial Mob”, will ask them to stop.  If they don’t, then 911.

The homeless community in lower Bucks County getting its act together is a step to show outsiders that they are just people like you and me, and that they can act responsibly and can handle managing their own communities, as is the case in an official homeless community in Ontario, California.

In California, land near the Ontario airport was set aside for the homeless.  It includes tents, toilets and water.  They are held to the same standards as people who live in other communities.

For the health and well- being of all, this official tent city community has rules.  For example only people the local community who became homeless can stay there.  At some of the non-official homeless communities in Bucks County, overcrowding is starting to become a problem.

The one rule, allegedly for health,  “no dogs allowed” is one I personally have a problem with.  But it’s good that, as in any other community, people can live safe and healthy environment, rather than the homeless having to scout around and find anyplace they can set up, which may not always be the healthiest place to go.

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/mar/18/local/me-tents18

If it can work in California, it can work here in lower Bucks County.

http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

Remember:

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have

–America – Tin Man

For those of you in Doylestown, this means that you can’t give people a quality they have or have worked on, such as intelligence.  We don’t need mind control or social engineering.

We Are Not in Kansas Anymore

Since last summer, when my partner at the nascent non-profit Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless,  Adam shared his idea of providing much needed shelter for the homeless in Bucks County, PA, I came up with the idea that models the Homestead Act of 1862.  The idea is to acquire land — there is much more vacant property in Bucks County than there are homeless people — and give the homeless an opportunity to build and develop their own homes.

The idea is not new.  There are towns, mostly  in the rural midwest, including Kansas,  that are offering free or reduced price land to people who will build and develop it.  This practice, known as “mini homesteading”, attracted people who populated dwindling rural communities and also businesses.  In some communities, it has stopped small town businesses and public schools from closing.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/free-land.aspx

Ellsworth, Kansas offered a 70 percent property tax rebate the first year on a homesteaders property as its  value increases as well as giving people land to build their homes.  Lincoln, Kansas offered to reduce property taxes during the first ten years in this homesteading deal.

Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless is not the only party that is struggling to give away free land for people to develop.

Back in 2012, only half of the free lots Marquette, Kansas were built on.  Lincoln, Kansas only had one party take advantage of the free land out of 21 lots Marquette starting giving away eight years ago.

The problem, is the economy.  Even with these deals, there is no work for people to support themselves so the designated give away land was not given away.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/01/us-land-free-idUSBRE83001N20120401

A difference between the plan we at Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless have is that we are trying to find, at least temporary shelter, for people who are either unemployed or underemployed.  Homeless people in lower Bucks County have been scavenging around for places and ways to find shelter.  They have been living like nomads.  Many of them find nightly shelter on walkways by buildings, some in their cars in parking lots, and some in tents in the woods.

Here’s the 411:   http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

In California, to keep the homeless off the streets, homeless people were allowed to move into an official tent city.  View the story on the video link below.  To view the documentary about this particular camp, after clicking, please cursor down on the lower right and click on “Tent City in Ontario California…”

http://wn.com/american_story_tent_city_usa

Throughout the country, tent cities have been raided, and the refugees fled to find shelter elsewhere.  One reason is overcrowding but another is people causing problems in the camp.

Over the past year or two, in lower Bucks County, PA,  homeless residents of two tent encampments were booted out.  In one case, a private property owner given homeless people permission to camp on the property and were even allowed limited access to an electrical outlet.  The owner kicked the people out when they took advantage and used excessive amounts of electricity.  Most recently,  people attracted the attention of the police when people at an encampment were doing drugs, getting loud and acting bizarrely.  I met one of the refugees and helped him move his belongings to a staging area before he could find a new spot.

Shortly before that incident, the authorities went on a hunt for a wanted man in another area in lower Bucks County and they found tents belonging to other people during the manhunt.  They were obligated to serve eviction notices.

One problem in this case was that the tents were on land under Bucks County jurisdiction.  If an unauthorized person gets attacked or hurt on county land, they can sue the county.  This is what has Bucks County running scared.  To quote Charles Dickens, “the law is an ass.”

Two other raids — and this has just been within the last year or two  — occurred in the Bristol area.  There was no reports of the homeless causing problems in these cases.  In the first raid, Warm Hearts, an organization that alleges to help the homeless, brought a Trojan Horse to the encampment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Horse

Within a couple days, the authorities raided the tent city.  Within a week, the Warm Hearts came to visit with their Trojan Horse, and again, the occupants were evicted.

Part of the problem with earmarking land in Bucks County is the image, stereotype people have of homeless people.  A local member of an organization that was established to help the down and out echoed these stereotypes.  When I mentioned that the local homeless were harassed by, mainly the head of a local library, she said that people in the area don’t like the homeless frequenting the library.  She said they are dirty, sprawl their food over tables, and look grubby.

This is a gross distortion of how they really are.  Because of graciousness of local places, the homeless can get free showers.  And if they lay food out all over the tables, just treat them like anyone else and tell them not to (this is not exactly a heinous crime.)  Sure, they don’t normally look like they are going to the golf course, but I wouldn’t exactly call them grubby.  In most cases, you cannot pick out the homeless, if you are an infrequent and casual observer who visits the library.

As in any other population, there are homeless people with problems.  In fact, about a week ago there was a ruckus just outside the library, with minor violence, which was stopped in the nick of time.  The library staff has a problem with it,  examined the video, and ended up banning one person from all Bucks County libraries for six months.  Although it was good that the person who crossed the line was punished, there still may be sanctions against the homeless.  At any rate, this, and a verbal and physical fight that resulted in minor injuries at a homeless hangout just outside the library reflects poorly on the homeless.

Many people don’t see these problems as a result of individuals causing them; they view it as a problem with the homeless.

There is going to be a meeting with the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) tomorrow.  I will talk about this in my next blog.  Meanwhile, the regulars who frequent the hangout, ironically referred to as “The Memorial Mob” (like calling that shaved-headed Stooge “Curly”) has formed a consensus on how to prevent problems there — to respect the place by creating rules of civility.

We need to help the homeless.  And they need to help themselves, first by getting their act together and then by working for a place to stay, once Bucks County can get their heads out of OZ.

Kicks

Recently, the advocate for the homeless for the “library people” in Levittown, PA was flabbergasted and saddened that there had been so much drama among her homeless friends of late — fights, breakups between a married couple and between friends, worry…

The drama was largely fueled by alcohol.

Researchers have found that substance abuse, including alcohol, is higher in the homeless than in the general population.  They are left with a chicken and egg question.  Which came first, the alcohol abuse or homelessness.

Both happens.  People lose their jobs and relationships because they abuse alcohol and become homeless, and for those who become homeless because they lose their jobs because of the economy, alcohol is a cheap escape.

Escaping problems by using drugs or alcohol is the subject of a 60’s song sung by Paul Revere and the RaidersAlthough Kicks  is an anti-drug abuse song, it can be applied to booze.

The song opens:

Girl, you thought you found the answer
On that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin’
The world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried
To fill the emptiness inside
When you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right

Read more: Paul Revere And The Raiders – Kicks Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The results of using alcohol to escape problems are the same for the homeless as it is for the general population.  After coming down off a high, the problem of being homeless is still there.  Not only does the original problem remain, there is damage in the aftermath of a drunken stupor.  The emptiness inside remains.  People in the normally close knit homeless group became alienated.  There were minor injuries.  What’s worse, an alcohol powered altercation that took place just outside of the library one day when the library was open has caused tensions between the library and the homeless people, with possible sanctions against the homeless.

To address the recent problems at the library, the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) will hold a meeting at the library with the homeless people.

This serious business for the homeless.  The homeless community here is degrading like the characters in Frank Norris’ 1899 novel McTeaque, where greed and jealousy resulted in violence and murder.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McTeague

The “library people” have various issues, but they all have a common problem:  homelessness.  Instead of being at each other’s throats, like the McTeaque characters, they need to be more like the characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, where people in a difficult situation worked together to help one another.

A crisis, such as a hurricane, brings the worst and best out of people.  In some cases, greedy, opportunistic people resort to looting.  In other cases, people will pitch in and help their neighbor.

The root of alcoholism is a character flaw, a spiritual problem, and the hopelessness of believing one is trapped in the homeless situation is a result of a lack of faith.

At a recent community meal, I shared with an AHTN volunteer how I had fallen into a pit and had lost hope and nearly my mind.  She asked if it was a result of drug or alcohol addiction.  It wasn’t.  It was a result of bad decisions driven by a bad attitude.  I came to realize what I needed was the Lord, and I returned to him.

By tapping into God and his word, taking to heart that he will help me, my health and well being has been getting better and I now have hope, although at times I have doubts.  I also lean on God to give me faith that things will turn out alright.

What the drunks in the local homeless, as well as the rest of the homeless community here need is God, and to follow his ways.

Life becomes unmanageable because of the effects of our separation from God, and not following his precepts.  This is what’s addressed in the first step of the 12 Step Journey Program I’m in.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/

Once people get their live’s under control vertically, in their relation to God, then they can better manage their horizontal relationships, with other people.

” Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”  — Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The homeless need to help and edify one another and help themselves.  We need to lend a hand to help them get there. To this end, Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless was created.  Read all about us:   http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

Behind the Scenes of The Homeless Tragedy

In a Greek tragedy I read in college, the play opens with a guard looking out into the horizon from the fortress.  The coast is clear.  But the audience knows that the fort is about to be attacked.  And it is. This is the epitome of the tragedy genre in literature.

“Tragedy” here is not used in the sense of a real world catastrophe, such as a volcano or a plane crash.  In drama, it is about a character who is brought to ruin and destruction, often through his or her own actions or failings.

Back in the Eisenhower 50’s, we didn’t have a homeless problem like we have today.  It was a different society.  Like a tragic play, our culture degenerated into what it is today.  Homelessness is one of the symptoms.

Somewhere along the way our culture got lost.

Author Tom Wolfe coined the term “The Me Decade” for the 70’s.  Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, people were generally content with their lot and lived within their means.  They generally didn’t get into debt the way they did by the 70’s.  And they basically loved their neighbor in a brotherly/sisterly sense.  At some point, this devolved into a different definition of love.

In the 70’s, I came across some propaganda from the big union that nested at the college where I had a summer job.  It whined that not everyone has the opportunity to send their kids to college and have the advantages to secure a well paying job.  Therefore, the workers are entitled to the same kind of pay that people who scrimped and saved, took out college loans, and studied and worked hard to secure a good income have.  Automatically.

At the college where I worked on the lawn maintenance crew, one of the regular employees didn’t join the union.  His name was put up on the board like a wanted poster.  The poster notified people that this worker is enjoying the benefits of working at the college but refuses to join the union.   He was treated like an enemy of the state.

The other workers would bring themselves into the shop about 1/2 hour before quitting time, and would just mill around, killing time, for more than 15 minutes.  Not the one recalcitrant to the union.  He stopped at the shop to drop off his equipment about five before quitting time.  He didn’t mill around  “on the clock”.

For some time, the big unions used member’s dues to contribute to politician’s coffers whom they favored.  The individual members have no choice in the matter.  And when there comes to a vote on something, they are ratted out and face retribution, much like the lone worker who didn’t join the union at the college, but these Brown Shirts are more extreme.

After having sold my house, with no place lined up to go, a handicapped couple I was helping arranged to have me live at the husband’s father’s house, where they were staying.  This was a tragedy.  The old man who owned the house was domineering, intrusive, bossy, irrational, and rude.  It was his way or the highway.  He is a retired union boss for the United Auto Workers (UAW).  He has a sticker on his truck that reads something like “UAW and Proud”.  It should read “UAW and Loud.”

And it was the highway for me.  The old man threw me out because  he said I “said I would not take them (the handicapped couple) shopping.”  I had just got back from taking them shopping and had schlepped numerous grocery bags to the kitchen and to the couple’s room upstairs.  I told him I never said that and reminded him that I had just taken them shopping.  I explained we had agreed to shop once a week.

“Take your stuff out of here or I”ll throw it out!”, he demanded.

We had made a deal that I would take the couple to their doctor’s appointments and out shopping, and do household chores in exchange for living there.  I had taken the couple, schlepping a wheelchair in and out of my car, to numerous doctor’s appointments and shopping. And I did my chores.  At some point, the couple got demanding.  It started with the woman constantly asking me to “stop for a drink”, not five minutes after we left the house and asking me to pick up little things.  On one occasion, two or three days after we went shopping, she asked me to take her shopping because she needed lunch meat.  I told her we just went shopping and got lunch meat.  I refused.  The wheelchair bound woman told me shortly thereafter that “Daddy” was going to pick up the lunch meat.  Not long after that, she asked me again.  “Didn’t the old man pick up lunch meat for you?”, I questioned.

“No”, she said.

I told the couple that I was willing to take them shopping once a week and to get what they need when we shop.   This was yesterday, about a week after the previous shopping trip, was when the tragedy occurred, when the former UAW Brown Shirt told me to “take my stuff out of here or I’ll throw it out.”

Evidently, this handicapped couple think they are entitled to what they want, not what they need and what others can give them.  It’s analogous to feeding wild animals.  The animals already have what they need, but they get handouts.  Consequently, they pest people and expect handouts.  This is what has happened to our culture.

The tragedy in our culture is due in large part to the church’s failure to influence society and by compromising the truth of the Bible.  Recently, I was greatly dismayed to learn that one of the churches that provides free meals for the homeless agreed to perform a same sex marriage.  The church has been compromising it’s principles and has been selling out to the world.  This has had a ripple effect and has contributed to social pollution and homelessness.

The key to a truly great society (as opposed to the alleged “Great Society” of LBJ) is to have people practice the principle to “love thy neighbor as thyself” and other Biblical beliefs.   Volunteers have been helping the homeless here in lower Bucks County, practicing what they preach.   Like the church, which needs to get it’s house in order, I also need to get my own house in order in my relationships with the homeless, for example, not returning wrong for wrong when some individual members of the community spread false witness or act mean, using me as a scapegoat.  Also, I have a right to be angry at the tyrannical former union boss who threw me to the curb, but not to sin.

To help the homeless find a home, Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless was created.  Read about our mission in my interview with Times Publishing:  http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

You Won’t Like Me Like That II

In the first part of “You Won’t Like Me Like That, I related a tale about one of my homeless friends in lower Bucks County, PA who, when he drinks booze, turns into a monster, similar to the Incredible Hulk.

It’s not the alcohol that inherently creates monsters and ruins lives, but a deep seated character flaw that it brought out by the booze.  Alcohol is just a catalyst.

“Oz didn’t give nothing to the Tin Man

That he didn’t, didn’t already have”

–Lyrics from Tin Man, from the 1974 song by America

Getting drunk is just one way the monster in us comes out — comes alive.  Just as Oz didn’t give the Tin Man a heart, because he already had one, alcohol doesn’t give people characteristics associated with a drunk.  Meanness, violence, belligerence, boisterousness are not simply a chemical reaction to booze.  It is a manifestation of the deprave nature of human beings.

Dr. Jekyll didn’t become Mr. Hyde simply as a result of a chemical reaction.   The novella is entitled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but although Mr. Hyde’s evil, bizarre behavior seems puzzling, it really is not all that strange, not hard to figure out.  It’s simply our dark side.  Brought up a Calvinist, I was taught about the “Total Depravity of Man”, the “T” in John Calvin’s TULIP acronym.  Agents such as alcohol, drugs/chemicals just bring this nature to the surface.

People can act as crazy, wrongly, without booze or drugs.  I’ve found that I don’t need any substances to bring out the monster in me.

The concept of The Noble Savage contradicts the view of the inherent evil nature in humans.  The Noble Savage view rejects the civilizing effects of society (Dr. Jekyll) — it strips human nature down to it’s animalistic state.  Those who subscribe to the Noble Savage view see civilization as corrupting what they see as an idealistic, “other” state.  The Noble Savage symbolizes humanity’s innate goodness.

The phrase “Noble Savage” came to be associated with an idealized picture of “nature’s gentleman,” an aspect of 18th century sentimentalism.  Charles Dickens knocked the idea of the Noble Savage.  He used the term sarcastically to disassociate himself with the sentimental slop of 18th and early 19th century romantic primitivism.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_savage

In short, the Noble Savage view is based on feelings rather than absolute truth and principles.  Recently, Rush Limbaugh, the burly talk show host, announced that he was “thin”, to mock the view that reality is what we think it should be.

The monster in us needs to be conquered.

I had an opportunity to be a drug counselor when I worked part time at a methadone clinic when I was a student.  After work one night, a counselor sat down with me at the bar next door and went over some material and talked with me about the art of counseling.  I had a problem with the ideas he presented, such as the idea that we aren’t inherently all that bad.  The material we read knocked Calvin’s concept of the total depravity of man.  Instead, the upshot was, we need to feel good about ourselves and don’t have to admit our flaws and deal with them.

In contrast, in the 12 Steps Journey program I’m in, the first step to recovery is to admit that nothing good lives in me, and that we need God to properly manage our lives. http://12stepjourney.com/.

There’s a homeless drug addict in the homeless circle I travel who wears a shirt that boldly reads “MONSTER”.  Actually, it’s a Monster Drink shirt, not a notice to others that he is a monster.  In reality, we don’t see the monster in people, as depicted in the 1988 science fiction movie They Live.  In the movie, Nada (Roddy Piper) doesn’t see the humanoid aliens with skull-like faces until he puts on a pair of special sunglasses that he finds.

Rather than looking at the world through the rose colored glasses of the Noble Savage, we need to see ourselves for the monsters we can be.  Noble Savage is an oxymoron.

There is hope, even for the homeless.  A good way to deal with problems is through industry.  We at Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless have a plan to supply the homeless with the property, tools and materials to develop and homestead it, modeled on the Homestead Act of 1882.     http://www.historynet.com/homestead-act

Read all about our organization:  http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529

Move It On Over

Authorities in Bucks County, Pennsylvania plan to have a massive raid on the homeless who they say have been “squatting” in “their” woods and expect to have mass evictions.

“There is only so much space available”, said county official R.I. Diculous, “and we need the space to accommodate the masses of undocumented workers who are yearning to live free.  Like the immigrants who came to our shores at Ellis Island, these people come with nothing, and we plan to give them something, ” Diculous explained.

“It’s important not to let our constitution become stagnant so this mass changeover of tenants helps keep our land overflowing with milk and honey; the constitution is a liquid document,”  said a beamish Diculous.

In a joint effort with the Obama administration, a public service TV spot to publicize this move for hope and change in Bucks County is planned.  Accompanying the video, a special adaptation of Hank Williams’ song Move It On Over will play.

“The homeless sneak in about half past ten

Pretty soon we won’t let them in

So move it on over, move it on over

Move it on over homeless dog because the immigrants are moving in

 

We won’t let you homeless in to the woods no more

Your innovative ways won’t work no more

So get it on over, move it on over

Scoot it on over, move it on over

Move it on over because we fat cats are moving someone else in

 

The dumpster here is very small

But they say it’s better than no home at all

So ease it on over, move it on over

Drag your junk over, move it on over

Move over old homeless dog because our cash cows are moving in

 

We told them not to lay around

Now you let us let dirty deals go down

So move it on over, drag your junk over

Move it on over, our cash cows are moving in”

 

“The advantage of having illegals moving into Bucks County land is that, not being American citizens, we are not responsible for their welfare.  We are not afraid that they could sue us if they get hurt because we are not obligated to protect them,” Diculous said.

“We don’t need no stinkin’ protection”, said A. Wetback, who recently crossed the Rio Grande and worked his way into Bucks County.

Environmentalists disagree about protecting illegals.  “The Eagle is our national emblem and should be protected at all costs, especially a sick one, an ill eagle”, said Don Quixote, a local environmentalist.

For those of you in Doylestown, this is a made up story, a satire.

In Bucks County, there is more vacant land than homeless Americans.

Public officials need to remember that they are in their positions to serve we the people, Americans.  There are too many Americans living right here in Bucks County who need a home.  They do not need a big government program, a babysitting service, or a mental health (legal drug clinic) to help the homeless.  Authorities in Bucks have known about the homeless problem since the late 80’s.

In fact, in January, 1988, Bucks County Commissioner Andrew L Warren told the Pennridge Chamber of Commerce that there is a homeless problem in Bucks County, and that “Bucks County government in the 1980’s and 90’s is where we are going to begin to have to find more solutions for issues like this.”

It is now June, 2015.  The emergency shelter in Levittown has a huge waiting list so many people are out on the street. Where are the solutions?

We are waiting for Godot.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot

We at Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless believe we have a better approach to the homeless problem in Bucks County.  Read about us in Times Publishing:

http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/

You Won’t Like Me Like That

One of the local homeless guys in Bucks County, PA I associate with who has a drinking problem is starting to get drunk more regularly again.  A few days in a row he’s been hanging out with the rest of the gang and although he didn’t provoke an altercation, he started losing self control when three other people started arguing over something stupid and has been getting into trouble.

He’s been on the verge of getting to the point where he instigates a fight.  One clue that he is drunk is when he addresses me as “Kevorkian”, aka Dr. Death, who was known for doctor assisted suicide.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kevorkian

A drunk who has left my homeless neighborhood started that nickname, which he also called me when he was drunk. When this guy is sober, he calls me “Jeff.”

Last night, I noticed his speech slightly slurred and starting to act a little erratic.  When he was getting ready to leave he said “I’ll see you Kevorkian.  I mean Jeff.”  I told him he was in transition.  He laughed, and said “Yeah, I’m in transition.”

He was in transition to that monster he becomes when intoxicated, much like the Incredible Hulk.  As the Incredible Hulk has said when he starts to become angry and ready to change to that Green Monster, “you won’t like me like that,”  I don’t like this guy when he transforms into a drunk monster.  He gets mouthy, intolerant, pushy, impertinent, and violent!  The difference between him and the Hulk is that, in his drunken state, he trips over his own two feet, and would not be much of a match for most sober people. Another difference is the Hulk only goes after the bad guys; this guy goes after anybody!

When this man is drunk there still can be damage.  His drunken state reflects poorly on the rest of the homeless people and there is a potential for injury if he gets into a fight with other drunks.

When he calls me Kevorkian, this is my cue to exit, stage right.

The past few days, members of the “library people”, who hang out in and around the public library in Levittown, PA, have been drinking more heavily and consequently getting into more altercations with each other, some of them very loud and on the verge of physical violence.  The most physical violence occurred when a drunken woman kicked a guy who was trying to break up a fight between her, her husband and another guy in the shins.  A very stocky homeless woman got between them and kept them away from each other.  In the nick of time, the bus to the community meals came.

On the bus ride, there was a détente.  But after the gang got back…   Let the rumble begin!

I don’t like any of my homeless friends drunk, miserable, and hopeless.  They are all in a challenging situation, and they need to get back to helping and encouraging one another, like the characters in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.  

I don’t like myself when I become angry, uptight and become bitter and vengeful to those in the homeless community who have used me as a scapegoat and have wronged me, although I have made peace with the few I’ve been at odds with, but not all.

I’ve been working with the homeless for about a year.  Besides the obvious that people are homeless, there are lots of problems in the local community — tobacco addiction, booze, and drugs, in that order.

Like the rest of the population, the homeless are not homogeneous.  The only thing all they have strictly in common is that they, in the words of Clarence “Frogman” Henry, “ain’t got no home.”

When I was in Army ROTC, we learned that a good officer leads by example and that respect is earned.  That officers bar will only carry you so far, we were told.

The rules of a good officer applies to my work with the homeless.

There is anger, resentment, defeatism, nihilism, and hopelessness in this community.  The homeless need help, encouragement, and acceptance.  And they need to be able to trust people.  Their trust has been betrayed by some people who said they were going to help them.

I have earned the trust, respect, and admiration of the local homeless community.  But setting a good example is a challenge.  One thing is not to return wrong for wrong.  I have been used as a scapegoat by some members of this community.  Someone I cared for (actually thought I was in love with), helped, and admired betrayed my trust by trying to flimflam me out of my cell phone.  Although I was able to get it back without incident, there were hard feelings.

After the homeless woman, whom I helped enormously, kept playing games with me and wouldn’t return my cell phone, I lost my temper and said some bad things, including “I hope who drink yourself to death.”  This was wrong.   Jesus would not do this.  I repented to God and tried to ask the woman for forgiveness, but every time I went to ask her, she ignored me.

For no reason, another homeless person with a problem with alcohol got nasty with me.  When I asked where the door is to drop off my homeless friend for Code Blue, a temporary place where the homeless can stay on extremely cold nights, the guy said something like “what do you think, dumb a**?  Don’t you see people standing by the door? ”  After hearing this salty talk awhile, I returned this wrong with wrong.  At one point I called him a loser.  This was wrong.

The next day, as I was talking to a homeless friend while waiting to pick up my homeless friend at Code Blue, this guy confronted me.  He called me a loser, said that nobody in the homeless community wants me around, and threatened physical violence, to which I replied “Go ahead, punk, make my day”.

To help the homeless, I realize that I have to get my act together and be a good example.

Another thing I learned in officer training is to put your men first.  The Bible says to consider others better than yourselves.  I try to put the interests of the homeless first, but sometimes it’s hard.

I regrouped and continued to tap into God, as I am a work in progress, and try to emulate Jesus better.

To help me do this, I’ve been attending a 12 Steps program, which uses Biblical principles to get me more on track with God and to better love my neighbor as myself.   http://12stepjourney.com/

Another way to help the homeless is to give them the opportunity to have a home.  To this end, Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless is raising funds through a crowdfunding site.   http://www.gofundme.com/lq6sfc  You can skip the ad after a few second but please do not skip out on this noble mission to give the homeless and opportunity to become productive members of society.

You Cannot Save Everyone

Although I, as a human, with feelings of humanity, like to see people stop their destructive behavior, and I try to help them with this, some people are hell-bent (and this is where they are heading) on destroying themselves.  It’s like seeing some fool paddling a kayak about to go over Rapids that drop as abruptly as Niagara Falls.

This makes me as crazy as The Three Stooges at the mention of Niagara Falls.  “NI AG RA FALLS.  Slowly I turned, step by step…”

I just saw a photo by Bryant McGill that someone posted on Face Book that reads:

“You cannot save everyone

Some people are

going to destroy themselves

no matter how much

you try to help them.”

Recently, two drunks I know were kicked out of homes because of chronic drunkenness.  They had plenty of warnings.  One of them is homeless.  The homeless drunk had been drinking on an off yesterday.  He and other drunks continued a quarrel that had started the day before, only other people were added to the blow up.  I suggested making a video and sending it to Jerry Springer.  Maybe he would invite the people on his show.

Last night one of sober people in the congregation audio recorded the ruckus and played it back to the perpetrators to let them know how they sounded.

Some of the drunks last night messed up their glasses, and one of them received a summons for falling asleep drunk in the street.

In the words of the old folk song:

“When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?”

My friend who had a drug problem but then got a job and I believed got straight, which I reported in my last blog, fell back again, according to word on the street.

Addiction to smoking is also destructive behavior that, no matter what you do to try to stop some people on this destructive course, they still insist on poisoning themselves. I’ve been taking a friend for treatment for lung cancer and helping to feed her, as she looks like what author Tom Wolfe calls an “X-ray” person, and have been encouraging her to drink Gatorade.

Recent results from a CAT scan showed that the chemo was successfully fighting the cancer.  Yet she continues to smoke!  At the treatment center, I saw people who got treatment in the chemo room just outside the building smoking!  I felt like approaching them like a drill sergeant and yelling “what kind of stupid are you?”

My friend’s doctor’s assistant told her that smoking under minds the cancer treatment.  She told me I should continue to tell my friend to stop smoking, as will she.

I’ve been keeping my friend’s food stamp card to make sure she doesn’t trade food vouchers for money for cigarettes.  Still, when she’s not bumming cigarettes from friends and even perfect strangers, she scours the ground and ashtrays for used butts to smoke.  And when someone gave her money, she bought cigarettes with it.  On one occasion, when she started using found money for food, she lied and told me she was out of money and bummed money from me.  Later that day I found her standing in a store line to, what else, buy cancer sticks.

Addictions become so strong that addicts lose their moral compass.  One drug addict boasted “I am the King of the panhandlers.”  On one occasion, he panhandled at a community meal from another homeless person! Yesterday he was in a local laundry where he panhandled.

Earlier on with my informal ministry with the homeless, I tried to help some alcoholics I befriended with their addiction.  They went off the deep end, especially two of them.  One of them took the attitude of Walt, the high school chemistry teacher in the AMC series Breaking Bad, who, once he learned he had cancer, started acting irresponsibly, and started making drugs and helping to push them.  The other one, a well educated woman with whom I occasionally had interesting conversations and at one point thought I was in love with, kept stealing, lying and manipulating as result of her character flaw that created such a drunk.

On one occasion, when I was trying to counsel the Breaking Bad character, when he was physically and figuratively outside the homeless gang I hung out with, one of them yelled out “Jeff, don’t waste your time with him” and added that there are other people out there who need help and are more receptive to it.

When these friends with addictions started heading towards the ash heap of history, I emailed a friend at the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN), which also help the homeless, and told her how saddened I was that these people would not turn around.  She responded that when she first started working with the homeless she thought she could change the world but came to grips with reality.  She told me that you can’t make them change and all you can do is show them God’s love…

There’s a guy in the circle I’m in who is practically going out of his mind with alcohol fueling it.  He was treated and made a profession of faith but then started slipping.  A few months ago, when he sat next to me on the AHTN bus he said “Jeff, I need a follow up” of his treatment.  Recently, I sat next to him at a community meal.  He shared he felt there was no hope.  I told them there was an introduced him the concept of sanctification.  I explained that when you come to Christ and confess your sins and get right with God, this is only a start.  And I shared my story about overcoming hopelessness.

God continues to work with you to make you more like Christ, perfect.  Perfection was only achieved in this world by Jesus.  By studying the scriptures, praying, and fellowshipping with other Christians we grow in God’s grace and become more like Christ.

Jay Adams, pastor and counselor, said that Christians have mental problems because sanctification either slows down or even stops, and the key is to, as the apostle Paul wrote,  use the Bible for “disciplined training in righteousness” to keep us in sync with the one who wrote the book on how to be right human beings.  http://www.nouthetic.org/about-ins/our-faculty/8-about-ins/6-jay-adams-biography

I attend the 12 Steps Journey Program to help me with my pent up anger, anxiety issues.  Like my friend, I was about to give up hope until I returned to the Lord, and followed up with this program.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/

All we can do is to try to send people on the right path, as does Evangelist in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bunyan/pilgrim.html   and become God’s ambassadors.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  — 2 Corinthians 5:20.