Why Do They Call It Dope?

At A Night To Remember, and event to remember those who lost the battle with drugs and died from an overdose, hundreds turned out to help raise an awareness of the problem. http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/31/night-remember-draws-crowd-overdose-awareness-event/

There already is an awareness; the event just reminded people about the drug problem. Unless you have been living as a hermit in the boon docks, you would know by now that there is a drug problem. The trick is how to best fight it.

It’s good the event aimed to increase awareness, and presented some practical tips such as not letting medicines build up in the cabinet to prevent temptation for those who can’t handle it, but I have a problem with the idea “the night was also about minimizing the stigma that goes along with addiction.”

Therein is the reason we are not winning the fight against drug abuse. When you tell people they are doing nothing wrong when they do dope, you are setting them up to fail. What ever happened to the saying “Just say no to drugs”?  and “Why do you think they call it dope?” The point is that we humans have a will. Of course some of us are more physically and morally susceptible to certain bad behaviors, but it still comes down to a matter of the will, choices.

We should, however, accept people as having intrinsic value. We shouldn’t condemn them, just their actions.

After finding Sandi, whom I’ve been taking care of for 2 ½ years, had stage IV lung cancer, I recalled what the instructor of a physical education/health class at college told us. He said he’d like to go down south and burn down all the tobacco fields but added “don’t tell your parents I’m really going to do this” and explained he was just trying to make a point about how bad smoking is for your health.

I imagined getting together with this instructor, who was an Army Ranger and served in Vietnam as a 2nd Lieutenant, to actually burn down these poisonous plants. I could imagine the headlines: TWO WACKED OUT VIETNAM VETS BURN DOWN DIXIE TOBACCO FIELDS/ THE RETURN OF SHERMAN.

Dealing with addictions this way was tried before. Prohibition.  In a documentary about prohibition, the narrator said that the US finally realized that you don’t resolve a problem that ten percent of the population has by keeping the source of the problem away from everyone.

This seems to be today’s plan to fight the drug problem, as found in the Bucks County Crime Stoppers Push Out The Pushers program. It’s basically a campaign to put up signs that encourage people to report drug dealers. Bucks County can lean on them, yet it pussyfoots with drug users, dopers. It wants to erase the stigma of being a doper. Why don’t they erase the stigma of being homeless?

The opioid and mental health task force, pushed by parents of a Pennsbury high school graduate who died after a drug overdose has all kinds of ideas for the district to use to deal with the problem. http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/24/pennsbury-launches-opioid-mental-health-task-force/

What parents need to do is raise their children right, teaching them values, Biblical principles, and lead by example. Of course, it’s not guaranteed.  I was raised this way. I didn’t succumb to drugs or continual boozing, but I went astray, like the Prodigal Son. And like the Prodigal Son, I came home and got back on the right path.  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+15%3A11-32&version=NIV

Smoking is a problem in the homeless community. I’ve never seen so many smokers in one place until I started associating with the homeless in Bucks County, PA.  With them, cigarettes are like gold, and the love of them creates problems just as it did during the Gold Rush era. When they don’t have the money for smokes, some people in this group scrounge for cigarettes in ash trays, parking lots and on the ground.

Drugs are the main reason the druggies in the homeless community have become homeless, to a lesser extent than alcohol abuse. Although a few people have come to the community meals drunk and caused problems, the druggies usually wreak havoc elsewhere. For example, because of complaints from neighbors who saw evidence of drug abuse in Queen Anne’s Woods, ambulance squads having to rescue homeless people who overdosed there, the woods were raided. And someone with a drug record caused cars to burn, totaling two of them, damaging others. Homeless people were allowed to stay in the cars on the lot, but one day a homeless woman had an argument with her boyfriend, and her firery temper caused the cars in the lot to burn baby burn!

The Bucks homeless community has a few drunks. Some of them are on the road to recovery. A couple of them have become productive members of society. At least one of them went through the Twelve Step program.

I believe a Twelve Step based program is the best bet for overcoming any anti-social behavior, whether it be drug abuse, an alcohol abuse problem, anger management, harboring resentment, anxiety, depression…

The first step is to admit you have a problem, and that your problem is a result of sin, a character flaw.  It took me quite a while to admit I had a problem and deal with it, but finally I came around.

I’ve noticed that some of the churches that host the community meals for the homeless and needy host 12 step programs. Most are specific to a particular problem. There was one program that addressed many problems by getting to the root of the problem.  After I lost my job and house, etc., I went to one such program in Levittown, PA. I was a minority in the group. The group was mainly composed of people who had a problem with alcohol, and regulars who had put their problem at bay began taking over the leadership. They overcame the besetting sin of drunkenness but couldn’t kick the cancer sticks. Consequently, this flaw caused a problem. Without telling the church that hosted the program, the regulars turned the program into their private club, and started meeting in someone’s house, where they didn’t have to forgo smoking for an hour.

Celebrate Recovery addresses your bad habits, hurts and hang-ups. There are locations in the general vicinity of Bucks County, PA. With what I’m now going through, I may take a break from my vigil at Sandi’s bedside and start going to Celebrate Recovery.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” -Romans 6:16

 

Selfless Not Selfies

Seeing Sandi suddenly take a turn for the worse put life into perspective.  There were times when I was angry, frustrated and feeling slighted by not having personal desires met. It makes me look at things differently when I see her struggling to get up, eat and drink. Finding the truth does this. For the longest time, I thought her chronic tiredness was mainly a result of her bad attitude.

That may have been part of it, but I learned, after she finished the more body draining chemo and after a year of less damaging Opdivo and after she just kept getting increasingly tired and uncooperative, it was the brain cancer.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer which also metastasized to the liver.

Brain was the first cancer treated when I took Sandi to ER after she felt like a hatchet was going through her head and spilled coffee at Code Blue, didn’t go in to eat with me in the morning, started taking her coat off after we got out of the car in freezing weather, threw up in the Levittown, PA public library and became very disoriented.

After the brain tumor was treated, and Sandi survived, except for minor problems, such as short-term memory loss, heavy chemo removed the rest of the cancer. It came back in the liver, but a year’s Opdivo treatment zapped the liver cancer, as if Packman was eating it.

Whew! I thought we were home free. But then a dramatic downfall. The cancer doctor explained that the brain cancer had been creeping back in, and now this seemingly sudden change. Awhile back she was walking on her own, going to community meals and to church with me. She got too tired to go any more and ended up having to use a walker. We did manage to visit relatives, one who had a lovable pit bull whom Sandi just loved. A few weeks ago, it took an hour or so to get her out of the car after seeing the doctor.  If it wasn’t for a good Samaritan, I don’t know what I would have done!

She was just one of many people who wander around Bucks County, PA who have no home to go to.

Seeing her now sleeping in a bed in a nursing home, nearly helpless, reminds me that people have intrinsic value, made in the image of God. We only have value because God created us from the clay of the earth and breathed life into us. Any gifts, skills God gives us is not for our own self-aggrandizement, but to be like Him and serve others.

For me, it’s a struggle to accept something like this happening to someone close to me. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”

Even when people create their own problems, we should still care about them. This doesn’t, of course, mean we enable destructive behavior. Not only would the enabling hurt society, but it also doesn’t help the person who engages in destructive behavior.

Do not snitch is a mentality found among the homeless community in Bucks County. The mentality is driven by the idea that you want to keep the peace and that people who report a criminal act are causing trouble. How about the victim? Hummmmm?

Recently, a drunken homeless woman suckered another homeless woman because she was allegedly running her mouth about someone being busted for drinking. If, as may be the case, the woman was not just talking about someone who is hurting others in the group, as was the case when a homeless guy who kept coming to meals drunk and causing problems, she had no business with the neh neh-neh neh neh verbalization of what happened. I can understand someone who is affected being angry about it, but the neh neh-neh neh neh remarks were not directly connected to the assailant. Maybe not directly, but the attacker may have taken this as a personal affront on people who get drunk.

This is similar to the written attack about a comment I made on someone’s Facebook page about a celebrity coming out of the closet and announcing he’s “gay”. I wrote “I wish these queers would stay in the closet.”  My detractors whined that I was affecting many people. Evidently, they thought that “being gay is OK.” Instead of defending my right to my opinion on her FB page, my FB and casual friend in real life told the politically correct Nazis “Jeff knows better.” I unfriended her on FB and in the real world. I have no plans to beat her up.

No matter what the reason, attacking people because you don’t like what they say lowers a person to the status of a wild animal! It also sends a poor message to the establishment. I heard that the authorities are not exactly going out of their way to bring the assailant to justice. I’ve compared the way the homeless are treated to the way blacks were treated during the Jim Crow South.

I remember seeing a movie about rock and roll legend Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard. His father was murdered by another black man. One of the characters said that “the police don’t care when one ni**** kills another ni****. ” This very well may be the case with this recent assault on a homeless woman by another homeless woman.

The Bucks County establishment thinks that homeless people are a bunch of drunks, thugs, druggies, thieves…, or as the old popular song goes “gypsies, tramps and thieves.”  Attacking each other, according to the elites, is simply what homeless people do. Wrong! Your status in life does not define you! You don’t have to believe, as Curly of The Three Stooges says, “I’m a victim of soy cum stances!”

https://www.bing.com/search?q=gypsies+tramps+and+thieves+song&FORM=EDGNCT

“As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another” -Proverbs 27:17

The New Stand Down Order

Finally, the real reason Philadelphia Stand Down, the three-day event to help homeless and needy veterans, will no longer be held in the field behind the Levittown public library is out. This year, Bucks County will do a re-creation of Jonestown, Guyana. Hillary Clinton will play the part of Jim Jones. 

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

The original Jonestown was welcomed by Guyana, as the country was then socialist.  Lately, Guyana has been moving away from socialism. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/guyana.htm 

Bucks County, PA is more socialistic than Guyana today, so the plan to remake Guyana is welcome here, as Bucks, which voted for her, welcomes Hillary Clinton with open arms. When the county learned that she was considering becoming a pastor, Bucks County made her an honorary pastor, ignoring the rule of law, which just impedes progress. It will bill the event “Pastor Hillary’s Jonestown.” 

Promoters of the event point out that the Levittown public library has not used the books the librarian started importing to make a large enough dent to fight racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic traditional values. The library conspicuously displayed Hillary’s books in the library, brought in other books promoting the new world order, but failed to make a radical difference in the progressive community, said Bucks County Information Officer R.I. Diculous, who added, “we need to go all the way!” 

Helping the homeless was a large tenet of Jonestown.  According to Religioustolerance.org: 

The Peoples Temple was initially structured as an inter-racial mission for the sick, homeless and jobless. He assembled a large following of over 900 members in Indianapolis IN during the 1950’s.  

“He preached a ‘social gospel’ of human freedom, equality, and love, which required helping the least and the lowliest of society’s members. Later on, however, this gospel became explicitly socialistic, or communistic in Jones’ own view, and the hypocrisy of white Christianity was ridiculed while ‘apostolic socialism’ was preached.” 

It’s the thought that counts!  At a recent Stand Down in Levittown I attended, State Representative Tina Davis touted how much she has helped the homeless and said she plans to help them even more. You may think this is a lofty goal and that Tina is just a dreamer, but, as the Disney character sings: “Dreams can come true; it can happen to you…”  By the way, Disney is taking over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is between San Francisco and Oakland, California. Why? It connects Fairyland with Jungle Land. 

He’s sneaking up behind me.  Pastor Hillary will host a workshop on combating sexism/ how to trump Trump. Participants will go through a diorama of creepy characters, portraying The Deplorables. 

To prevent overcrowding, Kool-aide will be served at the end of each day’s events. 

Members of Pastor Hillary’s Jonestown will reach out to the Afro-American homeless community to tell them that other members of the homeless community are racists. Although there is no evidence of this, the new Jonestown community will tell homeless blacks they are being repressed by homeless whites. They just don’t know it and need to be told. 

There has been isolated fighting between white homeless members. They can be recruited so all the fight can be taken out of them. Of course, like the rest of the homeless, they are itching to fight. The wise Philosopher Kings (and Queens) just know it, just as did Joseph Stalin, who believed the average person is a miscreant that just hasn’t been caught yet.  

Disclaimer: This is satire. For those of you in Doylestown, “sat·ire 

[ˈsaˌtī(ə)r] 

NOUN 

  1. the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. 
  1. synonyms: mockery · ridicule · derision · scorn · caricature · irony · sarcasm 
  • a play, novel, film, or other work that uses satire:  
  • “a stinging satire on American politics” 
  • synonyms: parody · burlesque · caricature · lampoon · skit · spoof · takeoff · sendup 
  • a genre of literature characterized by the use of satire. 
  • (in Latin literature) a literary miscellany, especially a poem ridiculing prevalent vices or follies.”  

https://www.bing.com/search?q=Satire&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=satire&sc=8-6&sk=&cvid=CB30BA91973C4591AC473E97121C35D4 

He who works his land will have abundant food, 

But the one who chases fantasies 

Will have his fill of poverty” -Proverbs 28:19 

Not In My Back Yard!

It seems that anywhere a place for the homeless to stay is proposed, there is resistance, even outcry against it. This happens in Bucks County, PA, where there is so much resistance that people don’t even try anymore, across the river in Burlington Township, NJ, where advocates are fighting to create a homeless community, and in other parts of the country.

At a meeting the Citizens Serving The Homeless in Burlington Township in February, someone in the audience asked the panel why they couldn’t build homeless housing in another particular community. The answer was that they were turned down. Instead of being compassionate about nobody wanting the homeless, his response implied “see, so then why do you want to dump the homeless on us!”

The plight of the homeless is like that of Snoopy, the dog in the Charles Brown cartoon. Wherever he went, there was a sign “no dogs allowed” accompanied by a voice over narrator announcing “no dogs allowed.”  

Image result for snoopy charles schulz no dogs allowed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snoopy,_Come_Home

In lower Bucks County, PA, there are about 100 recovery houses in neighborhoods. Consequently, crime rose. Druggies are allowed to live in neighborhoods while the homeless are blackballed everywhere! Up county there are no recovery houses. Do gooder liberals there say they care but that’s what it is – just talk! Just as liberals are very generous with other people’s money, they are generous with other people’s neighborhoods.

I’ve noticed that resistance to the homeless is greatest in progressive areas, where there are more homeless people than in more conservative areas (wonder why), and where many people don’t want the homeless in their back yard.

Recently, in San Jose, California, a blue, progressive state, city leaders slashed the proposal to have 99 sites slated for homeless communities with tiny houses down to four! http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/20/after-backlash-san-jose-reduces-number-of-tiny-homes-sites-for-homeless/

Even someone who said she’s compassionate for the homeless and even volunteers at a homeless shelter said she didn’t want the homeless in her back yard because it would decrease property values. Someone at the meeting with neighbors in Burlington Township, NJ expressed this same concern.  In California and New Jersey neighbors expressed concern about drugs and violence.  In New Jersey, neighbors also fear homeless people rifling through trash cans and panhandling.

The owner of a restaurant that the proposed New Jersey housing project would be next to wants to nip the project in the bud but said “The only way we would feel comfortable with this is if they guarantee that the people coming in here were not criminals or drug addicts or alcoholics.”

https://burlingtontownshipsun.com/nonprofit-seeks-to-build-homeless-housing-in-burlington-township-c1881e031a3d

Assuring the community that homeless people moving into housing will not be a problem is a legitimate concern. What is needed, in New Jersey as elsewhere, is a conversation between the neighbors and the homeless and their advocates. The February meeting was more of an argument, where neighbors at the meeting tried to force their will/views on others. A conversation takes place when both sides want to hear the other’s side and at least try to understand where they are coming from. As the pastor of the church I attend explained, an argument is about “me”; a conversation is about “us.”

Instead of imagining who the homeless are, based on media reports and images of Skid Row, people should get to know the homeless. “Don’t talk about us, talk with us” – homeless slogan. Maybe the nervous neighbors in Burlington Township should actually talk with the homeless and get to know them. I’ve been getting to know the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA over the past 3 ½ years. Some of them are a public problem, such as drunks and druggies, but certainly not all of them!

For sure, the folks moving into the Burlington County housing community need to be thoroughly checked out. Citizens Serving the Homeless get referrals from agencies, neighbors and churches to find candidates for the housing units. All applicants will go through an application process and a background check. No one under Megan’s Law will be permitted to live in the units, said the Citizens Serving the Homeless president.

Neighbors in Burlington County, NJ should get to know the local homeless, as should be the case in other communities. Don’t be like them or like the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks County, PA, where AHTN sponsored a video that used actors and a “script” to portray the homeless. Citizens Serving the Homeless in Jersey interviewed all the local homeless who were willing to be interviewed on video.

One thing the homeless in Burlington Township have going for them is advocates who stand by them and stick with a project to house the homeless. In June, Citizens Serving The Homeless hired a lawyer to, as it reads on their Facebook page “represent us in the negotiation with Burlington Township to be included in the Township’s Affordable Housing Plan being submitted for approval by the Superior Court in Mt. Holly that oversees all of the Affordable Housing Plans in Burlington County. This is the first step to getting our Community of Hope project approved at the local level…”

The homeless community is no different than other communities. Candidates for homeless housing should be screened the same way as people who apply for an apartment. To buy a house, you mainly need to go through financial, ability to pay hoops. Ever hear of a drug dealer or user moving into a neighborhood, or someone who uses dope? Huh? In Bucks County there are reports of drug dealers all the time and dopers, who are dropping like flies. They are not homeless.

The video of the Burlington Township homeless: http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html

I Feel Like Busting Loose!

Desolation Row, as evidenced in the drug abuse epidemic and other examples of a fallen world, the subject of my last blog, can be put in the rearview mirror. In a sense we are all homeless – in this world we are sojourners.

When we get too hung up with the things of this world – a house, a nice lawn, a car or cars, even maybe a swimming pool, there is a problem. The obsession with material, worldly things is one reason there is prejudice, judgmentalism against the homeless in Bucks County, PA. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, but there is more to life than personal peace and prosperity. Otherwise, we may as just as well be mannequins! We’d live in boxes.

Losing my house, job, etc. helped me realized what’s really important in life.

If we don’t know where we are going, and why things happen, then we are lost. In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, an everyman character, is taken on a journey from his hometown, The City of Destruction, to the Celestial City. As he journeys along The Kings Highway, after being relieved of burden of sin, he goes through trials, temptations and tribulations. The classic novel is subtitled “The Allegory of The Soul.” For those of you in Doylestown, an allegory is “a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one: “

“Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgrim%27s_Progress

In the everyday twists and turns in life, you may wonder where you going? What’s the purpose of life, you may be thinking. Do you, like the mother in The Rolling Stone’s Mother’s Little Helper, need valium to send you on your way, get you through your busy day?  https://www.bing.com/search?q=the+rolling+stones+mothers+little+helper&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=4b140af9dcd44e0b8092833b507ba222&cc=US&setlang=en-US

Like the pilgrims in The Pilgrims Progress, people today get caught in the slough of despond, bogged down by doubts, fears, temptations, lusts, shame and guilt. Some are homeless. To cope with homelessness, you won’t find the answer in the bottle, by eating more food than you need – gluttony, by worshipping with Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes (smokes are gold in the homeless community) or through drugs, which is popular outside the homeless community and often brought into the homeless community as druggies become homeless, which is no more helpful than the little yellow pill that mother, although she’s not really ill runs to for shelter. Like her, if you keep running to these shelters they will get you through the day, and finally to your busy, dying day.

To get out of swamp, you don’t drain it, but ask for help from a higher power, God, to get out of the pool of decadence, scum and filth. Press on towards the Celestial City!

Life can be demanding, frustrating. As a caregiver, I deal with someone who, although her stage IV cancer is almost gone, wants to give up on life. She’s worn out physically and that’s affecting her spirits. By contrast, my grandmother, rather than being cranky and despondent in her waning years when she had Lou Gehrig’s disease, kept a kindly spirit and thought of others. Unable to speak, she’d write notes to me to ask me about how things are going. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

Sometimes I feel like busting loose, busting loose. https://www.bing.com/search?q=i+feel+like+busting+loose%2C+busting+loose+song&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=69dd32eb059e4907bf4b845a3d4a156f&cc=US&setlang=en-US

But that’s just another escape. It doesn’t resolve the problem.

When you are on the right path, and not a customer at Vanity Fair, and see the vanity of cheap thrills that don’t satisfy, you find true peace and meaning in life. You don’t have to be, as Curly of The Three Stooges chirps, a victim of soy-cum-stances!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you“. -2nd Corinthians 4:8-12

Leaving Desolation Row

In my last blog I argued that the term “Skid Row” was not synonymous with the homeless, and cited my first-hand experience with the homeless in Bucks County, PA. The homeless here are not all raggedy looking drunks rummaging through trash cans, lying drunk on the street.

At the community meal for the homeless and those in need, a particular individual’s demeanor and behavior matched a homeless stereotype. Every time I see him, he appears to be drunk. (although AHTN is not supposed to transport drunks) In slurred speech, on Saturday he just blurted out something like “we’re having meatball sandwiches. Are they here yet…” At this meal, the host calls people by table to come and get their food. And as he’s want to do, he called another guest “Courier Times”. This time he approached him directly and said “you write editorials…”  To be fair, to quote W.C. Fields, he “only drinks on two occasions; alone, and with other people.”

In think that in turn, Courier Times should call the guy “Skid Row.” Just joking. It’s best to ignore him. I do.

Calling the guy “Courier Times” is an extreme example of the game “whisper down the lane”, where someone tells a story, whispers it to another person, who then passes the message to several other people. Usually, the message is not the same. Some people who go to the meals, including someone from the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need, thought “Courier Times” was the one writing these blogs. He hasn’t so much as quest or even ghost written one of my blogs. Of course, he, like other people I talk with and I observe, is grist for my mill.

For all walks of life, rather than “Skid Row”, I could use the term “desolation row”, which our culture is coming to with the drug epidemic, drunkenness, anger driven violence, hate, etc.

Bob Dylan (again) paints a picture of a fallen world. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Desolation+Row+Bob+Dylan+Original&&view=detail&mid=D4D8130419FD53DCEBD0D4D8130419FD53DCEBD0&FORM=VRDGAR

Another one who bit the dust in Bucks County was remembered this weekend. Last year the Bucks County Coroner’s office investigated 140 drug overdose deaths. Buck’s County’s Desolation Row.  http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/12/family-friends-gather-remember-young-mother-lost-addiction/

“It is killing too many, and there has to be a cure for it,” said the mother of the 21-year-old who died, adding “I just think the drug epidemic is way out of control.”

Searching for a cure… More and more rehab programs, well-advertised, more tax dollars to fight this epidemic, at the root of which is sin, snuffing out an increasing number of people, and growing. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again!

It’s not the drug epidemic that is out of control – it’s people!

There is a way out of destructive behavior, such as drug addiction. King David was in Desolation Row for a time, but the Lord delivered him:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.”  -Psalm 40:2

There is hope: https://www.lakeviewhealth.com/resources/christian-drug-rehab/bible-verses-for-addiction-recovery/ 

Does Skid Row Equal The Homeless?

In previous blogs, I addressed how people become homeless because of irresponsible, destructive behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse, gluttony, materialism and sloth. Not everybody becomes homeless for those reasons, and a homeless person should not be labeled a persona non grata just because he or she is homeless.
https://intpolicydigest.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/1516126036147.jpg 

The name “Skid Row“, unfortunately gives some people an image of the homeless – raggedy looking drunks rummaging through trash cans, lying drunk on the street, etc. In my experience the past 3 ½ years hanging with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA, I found that this is not the case here. Prior to this, my experience even seeing the homeless was when my daughter and I navigated around people sleeping on steaming grates in Philadelphia as we walked to a school where my daughter was participating in a play.  

People outside the homeless community are drunks and druggies and have other character flaws. The folks in a recent police report have homes: http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/10/police-log-numerous-drug-related-arrests-tools-stolen-from-van-more/ There are bad apples in every walk of life. 

Who are today’s homeless? http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html 

Loss of job because of sickness and because of the economy is a cause of homelessness. Big government programs, big government in general is not the answer, as some homeless advocates think. In the late 20s and 30s, when big government intervention reared its ugly head, millions of people became hobos, hopping trains to look for work and food. Others, smaller farms, as depicted in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath became homeless because of big government intervention, where the government, for example, paid the large farm conglomerates to burn crops, drove across Route 66 – but didn’t get their kicks – to find work in California. 

Today, there is more homelessness in blue, progressive/liberal states than in red, conservative states.  

Late 2013, The Boston Globe reported: 

Record numbers of homeless families are overwhelming the state’s emergency shelter system, filling motel rooms at the cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars a year. 

“An average of 2,100 families a night — an all-time high — were temporarily housed in motel rooms in October, just about equaling the number of families staying in emergency shelters across the state, according to state Department of Housing and Economic Development. 

The demand for shelter is so great that the state has been temporarily shipping homeless families from Boston to motels in Western Massachusetts… 

So much for liberal Massachusetts.  In New York, as New York Magazine reports: 

“Here in New York, they found a thirteen-percent increase, for a total of 64,060 people living in shelters and on the street. And in Los Angeles, the homeless population jumped 27 percent, to 53,798.” 

The New Yorker brought up The Skinny Socialist’s, aka Barack Obama’s, promise to end chronic and veteran homelessness in America by 2015 and presented a reality check that all the homeless in NYC can’t fit into the seats at Yankee Stadium. 

By contrast, Texas, a red state where freedom, low taxes, and restrictions on government intrusion prevail, is the place where people are fleeing from blue states, an exodus like the Israelites fleeing Egypt. 

A tale of two homeless people in Bucks County: One homeless guy kept quitting jobs after working long enough to collect unemployment, and at least some of the jobs someone got for him. He ended up getting disability, the unofficial but de facto reason that he’s lazy (a sloth) and irresponsible and on county assisted housing, not earning a penny himself. Another homeless man sought work, working temp jobs and finally getting a good permanent job. 

How to fight homelessness? 

  • Don’t vote for progressives 
  • Work
     

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.  How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” 

-Proverbs 6:6-11 

No Direction Home?

You can take people by the hand, but you can’t pull them. It’s noble to reach out to people who need a helping hand. But in some cases, they don’t want to listen to advice or follow the right path.

After people visited him in the hospital, worked hard to get him in a nursing home, moved his worldly  possessions  from his sold home into storage, counseled and encouraged him to straighten out and tried to get him into more programs to help him overcome his besetting sin of chronic drunkenness, he walked away from the nursing home. When he was distraught around the public library in Levittown, PA our friend in the homeless and needy community in Bucks County, PA, a police officer encouraged him to return to the nursing home. He didn’t.

At Tuesday night’s community meal for the homeless and those in need, our friend was greeted by his friends. He thanked those who have been helping him.

The reason for bolting from the nursing home? He described it as being quite filthy. I find that dubious, as do others.

He told me he planned to find a hotel and drove away from the dinner. The social worker he was working with, he said, was looking for a room for him.

Now, he’s on his own, with no direction home, as Bob Dylan sang. https://www.bing.com/search?q=bob+dylan+like+a+rolling+stone+video&qs=RI&pq=like+a+rolling+stone+bob+dylan+video&sc=4-36&cvid=03A1BA8266F8423E8DB414525C1D72E4&FORM=QBRE&sp=1

The man needs to be sequestered in a home, where he can get the treatment, mostly counseling, that he badly needs, as well as a place where he has to stay away from the bottle and cigarettes, which he craves.

A few years back, I kept company with a homeless woman who had just walked away from her husband, a well-paying job, fancy cars and a great house in an upscale neighborhood. She was well educated. The woman was leery of going to the homeless meals, as she thought people didn’t like her being there. I encouraged her to go, and we often went to the meals together. I also brought food to her tent, as she was quite thin and may have gotten thinner.

For awhile, we did positive things such as discuss books we got out of the local library, would reference books we’ve read, talked about art…  She got a job but was fired, accused of being involved in a stealing ring. She had a problem with the bottle, and soon returned to heavy drinking, and habitually stole things. She sometimes broke down crying, lamenting to me that she was homeless.

Drunkenness, like other crutches to escape life, leads nowhere. A problem drinker’s girlfriend and I used to say that he thinks the answer to problems is in the bottle. He may think that a genie will pop out and say “your wish is my command.”

Actually, the bottle abused is a tyrant! It’s an example of pursuing something that entices you but brings you to despair, as Bob Dylan sang about the youth who left their comfortable homes in search of something better. The grass was no only not greener – it was brown!

People who engage in destructive behavior such as drunkenness can lose their jobs, their houses, family and other relations with people. They are so enamored with the bottle that it become more important than anything else.

As a result of his heavy drinking, Dr. Robert Smith, aka Dr. Bob, one of the Alcoholics Anonymous founders, almost didn’t finish medical school and put his business and family life jeopardy. But with God’s help and through AA programs, after staying with the program, Dr. Bob was able to put this destructive behavior at bay. The 12 Step program grew out of Alcoholics Anonymous, which continues to be a successful program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. …” – Proverbs 23:39-35

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

In the community of needy and homeless people in lower Bucks County, PA, I ask “why can’t we be friends?”  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=why+can%27t+we+be+friends+youtube&qpvt=why+can%27t+we+be+friends+youtube&FORM=VDRE

In real life, being friends is not as simple as portrayed in this whimsical musical video. Being friends, and keeping friends takes work, and you have to have the right philosophy, the right outlook on life. It depends on the content of your character.

It’s easy to be friendly and get along when nothing comes between people, especially with needy and homeless folks. But, alas, it’s not always smooth sailing, and conflicts arise for different reasons. Sometimes people are under pressure, as was the recent case when some friends graciously helped salvage lots of stuff from a house that someone in the hospital had sold. Sometimes it’s a case of greed, addictions, whether it be food (gluttony), cigarettes, material possessions, booze, drugs, you name it…

A response to a glutton’s question in this community illustrates the problem: “What do you care? All you care about is feeding your face at other people’s expense.”

Greed was the cause of conflict between the fictional characters in Frank Norris’ McTeague.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McTeague

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” -Romans 12:18

Peace is not just a matter of everybody agreeing and having no problems. In some cases, it’s a matter of misunderstanding and someone being overanxious for something in the heat of the moment. It’s best not to jump to conclusions and become angry.

Peace is where there is no confusion, that you know what is the right thing to do and you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You may not always agree, but at least try to find out where the other person is coming from. Try understanding. Sometimes you’ll realize the motivation was right. Other times, you may find the other person is just a rat! In some cases, conflicts, misunderstandings can be resolved. Sometimes not. It is sometimes the case that the other party is just a user, someone who is just selfish. In the latter case, it’s a good idea to not put yourself in a position where someone can use you. But it’s wrong to harbor a grudge. This is something I’m working on in my life. I’m slowly putting aside anger about people who have grossly wronged me.

Somethings can be overlooked, and other, even valid issues don’t need to be dwelled on, repeated over and over again. And it’s important to forgive people for their wrong, although you shouldn’t put yourself in the same position again. A Christian brother once told me that if someone you’re walking with throws you over a bridge, to not go near bridges with that person.

There comes a point where attempts at reconciliation hits an impasse. Sometimes there is no common ground, principle. Take the character who comes to the community meals for the homeless and needy in Bucks County – Birdman. (please!) Sometime after I told Birdman he was annoying when he visited my table and tried to swipe whatever he could, he asked me why I think he is annoying. “I’ll take that as a rhetorical question,” I replied. (For those of you in Doylestown, a rhetorical question is one that does not require an answer.) Evidently, we are operating under different paradigms.

I’m trying to leave it at that, and I try not to make fun of Birdman too much. But this behavior cannot be tolerated.  Two of the community meal hosts banned Birdman from the meals. And one in particular keeps an eye on this sparrow. In one case, when Birdman reached over a guy sitting at a table, the guy grabbed Birdman’s wrist and hit a pressure point, numbing his hand temporarily and warned Birdman if he ever came to his table again, he’d really hurt him. Force or the threat of force is sometimes needed to stop predators.

There are other quests at the meals I’ve called out for similar, but not nearly as egregious behavior, with whom, through a third party, I’ve at least made peace with, although there’s another party who is trying to stir up stink.

A defendant in a lawsuit, where it’s believed she was instrumental in having a guest at a community meal banned from the meal and the AHTN bus and disgraced while the drunk and disorderly homeless guest who attacked him let off Scott free, wants to resolve the problem. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent –

The Lord detests them both” – Proverbs 16:15

Even when you have a righteous case against someone, if at all possible, as far as it depends on you, make peace.

Too Soon Old Too Late Smart

” Vee grow too soon oldt, und too late shmart.” (we grow too soon old and too late smart)   -old German saying

Like beat poet Allen Ginsberg, I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness. People’s lives are being destroyed by drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behavior. In Bucks County, PA, Steps to Recovery in Levittown, PA will host a ceremony in remembrance of those who lost their lives to overdoses. It will be held on August 30th, International Overdose Awareness Day. http://levittownnow.com/2017/08/03/recovery-center-tony-luke-jr-hosting-night-honoring-overdose-victims/

Seeing all this destructive, deadly behavior, I have to quote Astro, the dog on the old Jetson’s cartoon: “Rumtins rong rear Reorge!” (Something’s wrong here, George). I also quote Bob Dylan: “Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is. Do you? Mr. Jones.” https://youtu.be/hC4r3QFnmQ8

Back in the 50’s, as depicted in Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, there was the beat generation, people who ruined their lives with drugs and other destructive behavior but they were on the fringe of society. Today, this behavior has become more mainstream. In fact, drug use and other erratic behavior is an epidemic!

People I know personally in Bucks County have and are still engaging in destructive behavior. Some have a chronic problem with booze and some with drugs. One guy, who almost died four times after abusing alcohol, landed back in the hospital again. Soon after got to a nursing home, he escaped! Somehow, he ended up in another hospital. He just wants to keep abusing alcohol and smoking. As a friend said, they are his god.  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” -Proverbs 26:11

Chronic drug and alcohol abuse are examples of besetting sin, a sin that has a strong hold on you and you just can’t seem to shake. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” -Ephesians 5:18

One friend licked his substance abuse problems. He went through a 12 Step Program and went to and stuck with God. He now has a good job and acts responsibly and gets along well with others.

Although I don’t know anything about Steps to Recovery in Levittown, I was glad when I looked on their website and saw that they include the 12 Step Program in their treatment program. https://www.stepstorecovery.com/

Even with good rehab programs, people with big problems have to do their part. Resolving these problems is not just a matter of following steps. If you make a paper maché volcano and shake baking soda into the center then pour vinegar and red food coloring, then it will become effervescent and simulate a real volcano. Human behavior is not so predictable; doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just have to walk away from people you are trying to help and let God take care of them.

Sometimes people just have to learn the hard way. I did. Although I can have a glass of wine and walk away and don’t do dope, I’ve engaged in destructive behavior in other ways. After I lost my job, my house, my wife, was alienated from relatives and suffered other problems, I finally started coming around.

Likewise, a guy I knew from the community meals for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County finally came around. His cousin told me his Aunt (the guy’s mom) asked him to help his cousin straighten out. It was to no avail. At one of the meals, a host ministered to the guy. Sometime after that, when I was visiting a friend with an alcohol problem in a local short-term inpatient treatment center, I ran into him. He realized the seriousness of his problem and said he was determined to get with the program. He transferred to another place and the last I heard his recovery was going well and that he had a little job.

Back in the 50’s, if you were a drunk or a doper you were an oddball. In the 50s people went to church and took their faith seriously. They read Christian authors such as CS Lewis as well as the Bible. Families prayed together and stayed together. Hearts and minds are the root of one’s character. You are what you think and where your heart is!

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2nd Corinthians 10:5