“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there. You take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.” -HUD Secretary Ben Carson
When I heard Dr. Carson say this on Fox News, the homeless community in Bucks County, PA came to mind.
Some people in the Bucks homeless community, who have lost practically everything, have moved on up. They had the right attitude, values. They didn’t engage in or even listen to malicious gossip They stopped or didn’t do drugs, excessive drinking, heavy smoking, gluttony or other bad habits that would keep them down. Instead, they kept plugging away, trying to improve themselves and relentlessly looked for and found work and housing, or are at least on their way to getting a place to live.
Conversely, those in the homeless community who bear and circulate false witness/gossip, do drugs, continually get drunk, smoke like chimneys, and gouge themselves like they are at a Roman banquet keep them down and out, and they tend to become miserable.
Dr. Carson’s view about the consequences of your attitude is dramatized in the comedy film Trading Places. In the movie, homeless street hustler Billy Ray Valentine trades places with the rich commodities broker managing director. While in the whirlpool, Billy Ray reflects on his childhood, saying “we used to have to fart in the bathtub to get bubbles like this.” With his new found wealth, Billy Ray throws a party, populated with low life who trash the place out then split.
But Billy Ray rises to the task! Given a chance, he learns the commodities business, acts well mannered, and becomes successful.
In Bucks County, the system offers to take care of the homeless and doesn’t encourage them to better themselves. The subtle thinking among government and other elites in the county is that of a caste system, where once you are homeless, you will always be homeless. They keep the homeless down by offering them handouts – low cost housing and disability to help pay for it, replacing tents and sleeping bags when the users destroy them…
As Dr. Carson said, there is material poverty and poverty of the spirit. A member of the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) let two homeless people off the hook for having sex one morning in the homeless bus shelter. The whole group got punished by having the shelter torn down and the bus stop moved to the middle of the parking lot in the Bucks County Government Center. Other homeless people were banned from the Levittown public library for fighting and cursing, where formerly stood the bus shelter, where the couple’s love grew under its umbrella. They are now in government housing, at taxpayers expense. In the past couple of years, he worked two different jobs and walked off both of them. I heard from a reliable source that he had a pattern of working just long enough so he could quit then get financial assistance.
The same AHTN member who helped get Don Juan and his lover off the hook did the same for a homeless guy who came to a community meal drunk and became disorderly. Despite loudly cursing a blue streak and viciously physically attacking another guest, which took three of the hosts at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA, he was allowed to continue to ride the AHTN bus (which on paper doesn’t allow anyone to come on the bus drunk) and go to the meals. The victim, who basically rope-a-doped, was banned from the bus and the meal at Redeemer. I believe it’s in the best interests of AHTN to enable bad behavior among the homeless. After all, that’s how they are supposed to act. Isn’t it? And isn’t that what keeps AHTN in business?
Your attitude and values have much to do with your lot in life. Your circumstances should not dictate your joy. Seasons of happiness come and go, but you can have joy in the Lord.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” –Proverbs 4:23