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.

She Thinks She’s a Tree!

“Hey buddy! You have to help me. It’s my wife. She thinks she’s a tree!”, said a man who knocked on the door on the Soupy Sales show. “Then why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”, Soupy replied.

“Come on dear,” said the frantic man as he pulled a tree past Soupy’s door.

I joke, but there is a serious problem in our country today with substance abuse and other problems, particularly in Bucks County, PA.

Because the church hasn’t been effectively helping people with problems, and out of desperation, people have been turning to secular psychology and psychiatry. Although churches are starting to offer Biblical solutions to problems, it is still ingrained in us that we need “professionals” to handle big problems.

There is a problem with much of modern psychology and you may as well be the woman who thinks she’s a tree who is just dragged away, as chances are you won’t get the help you need.

This is what I found, as did others with mental health clinics associated with the Bucks County health industry. A couple years ago, I lost my job, my dog, my house and had other problems and I psychologically went on a downward spiral, through a virtual black hole. Some of the problems were a result of my own doing. Nonetheless, although the Salvation Army helped me get on the right track, people there palmed me off to Penndel Mental Health, where I was given Paxil, which made me worse. The cognitive behavior therapy gave me a methodology to work things out, but it wasn’t the cure.

I just heard “The Addiction Network” ad come on again, where a bearded guy with glasses and scrubs makes his spiel and Augustly states “addiction is a disease”, inflecting the word “is”.

On pastor and Christian counselor Jay Adam’s website, the notion of drug abuse, and by extension, mental problems being a disease is addressed:

“Mental Illness

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Donn R Arms

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease, illness, or injury in anything other than a metaphorical sense such as a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease”

For sure, drug “addiction” has physical symptoms. I know from experience that the dope I got from someone in a lab coat has severe withdrawal symptoms. But my anxiety was caused by my mental attitude, precipitated by my habitual ungodly behavior. I got my anxiety, and depression under control and continue healing as I try to submit myself to God and his ways, fighting my fleshly, sinful nature and get my head right. There is some merit to cognitive behavioral therapy, in that what you think results in subsequent behavior and that it is at least concerned with personal responsibility and decision making.

As one of the characters on Monty Python and The Holy Grail said, “it’s only a model.” You have to fill in the blanks in the flowchart in cognitive behavioral therapy.  After evaluating behaviors/outcomes as a result of thinking, you may want to rethink what you did. The flowchart:

 

I fill in “thoughts” with the right stuff, God’s Word, or at least basing my thoughts on scripture.

The 12 Steps, which was started by Alcoholics Anonymous, is the right stuff. It is faith based. More than 90 percent of substance abuse treatment centers used AA principles and more than 30 percent of referrals to AA came from various treatment centers in 1949.

I recently saw the movie The Untouchables again, which depicted the corruption and degradation of the so-called progressive period. By 1949, our society started healing from the social ills, and I use “ill” as a metaphor.

I personally know people who are incessantly off and on in their attempts to stop abusing alcohol and other substances. This happened to a guy during the early years of AA. He even was treated for his problem by Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung. About a year after finishing treatment with Dr. Jung, the man went back to the bottle. The Doc’s prescription was “a spiritual conversion with a religious group” as he was considered a nearly hopeless case. And with God’s help, he overcame!

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

There is hope with God.

Recovery is not instant. In fact, it can take a long time to change bad habits and heal wounds. One bad, sinful problem I’m working on is unforgiveness, harboring resentment against people who grossly wronged me. As the case with any problem, you have to admit you are wrong and allow God to change you. There are people in the homeless and those in need community who, despite concerned, caring people reaching out to them,  continue their bad habits, with is actually besetting sin.

https://www.gotquestions.org/habitual-sin.html

I’ve been trying to help a lung cancer patient who wants to give up and has engaged in irresponsible, destructive behavior. She has, however, made some progress. People who reach out to help people are not responsible for results; just doing the right thing.

The problem with modern psychology/psychiatry is that it tends to treat human behavior like science, the physical world of inanimate objects. This doesn’t work. Contrary to Marxist thought, two different people in the same place and situation don’t always behave the same. This is a materialist view of humans. In fact, I think Marx wrote of “Dialectical Materialism.”

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 5: 15,16

Time Out!

It seems sometimes that, in the words of James Taylor, people are too much for me to take. They continue in their destructive behavior which not only hurts themselves, but other people.

A long time ago, a man named Jonah found the people of Nineveh too much to take. When God told Jonah to go to this wicked town to minister to them, he blew God off and walked the other way.

As the story goes, Jonah gets aboard a ship and out of nowhere comes a storm. Jonah told the crew that his running away from the Lord caused this. They jettisoned him and Jonah got swallowed by a whale.

Time out!

Inside the whale, Jonah got to think about his attitude and his disobedience to God. He repented and asked God to guide him. Jonah returned to Nineveh and the town repented and turned to God and from their evil ways.

Jonah, however, didn’t like God’s compassion for the wicked city.

Jonah had written off Nineveh as a lost cause and wanted them destroyed. God didn’t.

Like a sibling who couldn’t wait to see his brother or sister punished, Jonah sat waiting to see God open a can of whoopass on Nineveh.

God made a vine grow over Jonah to protect him from the hot sun but then he brought a worm to chew the vine, leaving him exposed to the blazing hot sun. Jonah grew faint and wanted to die. He was angry at God.

God gave Jonah the message similar to the opening of the science fiction series The Outer Limits:  “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.”  God showed Jonah that He was in control.

He compared this demonstration  to the people of Nineveh and told Jonah: “You have been concerned about the vine, though you did not tend it of make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 920,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

The homeless community in lower Bucks County, PA is my Nineveh. Members of this community engage in destructive behavior – stealing, conniving, lying, manipulating, being drunk and disorderly in public. Some knuckleheads caused more responsible people to have to vacate their makeshift dwellings. A druggie stole two coats and a cell phone charger from a cancer patient I’m taking care of, after she was shown great hospitality as if she were a daughter.

It’s a human character flaw to wish, as Jonah did on Nineveh, bad things to happen to people when they wrong you. I told the victim of the druggie’s theft that I wished she would die out in the street from withdrawal.

The victim admonished me, reminding me that this is not a Christian view. She’s right, and I prayed to God to deal with the SAM (lower Bucks County PA druggie) the way Jesus would.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” –Romans 12:19

God gives people 2nd chances. He gave me another chance. Like the people in Nineveh, I persisted in my sinful ways. After falling into a pit as a result of my behavior, I called out to God, who forgave me and rescued me and directed my paths.

Despite people, including myself, reaching out to people in the homeless community, they continue their destructive ways. I felt bad to see people I’ve tried to help turn to the dark side.

I’ve had to come to grips with the idea that my task is to obey God and show love towards others. After doing all I could do for someone, I’ve had to walk away. A friend told me that it was their choice and it wasn’t on me that she didn’t change. God, not I, am responsible for outcomes.

A counselor at a treatment center I visited told the visitors to make rules and set boundaries for their loved ones with addictions but to never condemn them. Good advice!

Don’t give up. Some time ago, a drug addict said that he wished he didn’t do what got him into the sorry state he was in. Although, as I told him, life is not a videogame where you can delete what you did, you can get back on the right track.

Drug users use more and more to try to get satisfied. They never reached their nirvana and end up flatlining. We strive for nirvana but never get completely satisfied. Drug addiction, like other sins, leads to destruction. As Neil Young sang:

“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done

A little part of it in everyone

But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun”

Like Nineveh, which God threatened to destroy if the people there didn’t come back to him, addicts and other people who regularly engage in other ungodly behavior still have a chance before they become toast.  At the 12 Steps Journey program I attend, which is not just for addictions but for other problems, I’ve seen people with big problems get their act together. It’s not quick as a wink you’re in the pink, but a long journey that requires devotion and constant turning to God. http://12stepjourney.com/

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” –Psalm 40:2

The Homeless and The Druggies

Almost two years ago, a source told me that guy who called himself “the librarian” at the  public library in Levittown, PA stated that homeless people are one step below drug addicts. After he harassed me and I contacted a county commissioner, he soon was gone.  This, by the way, was before authorities associated me with the homeless.

Homeless people are that way for different reasons, including as just a result of the economy. People are in recovery houses because of their addiction, which usually leads to stealing and other antisocial behavior.

A former homeless guy who frequented the Levittown library and the nearby Veteran’s Memorial complained that the homeless get a bad rap and that it’s people from the recovery houses that have been causing problems at the library and surrounding area.

As I mentioned in other blogs, it was the druggies who precipitated the evictions on the homeless living in the woods by the Levittown library.

Yet, there is prejudice against the homeless. Even the Community Relations and Development Director at the local Salvation Army echoed the sentiments of anti-homeless special interests in the community. She said that people visiting the library “don’t like” the homeless people being there, adding that they stink, spread food out all over the tables, and dress shabbily. I told her this isn’t the case and if someone breaks the rules, they should be told about it like everybody else and that homeless people have a right to be at a public library.

So it’s OK to keep people away from a public place simply because people don’t like them? This is not what the guys who are honored at the nearby Veteran’s Memorial fought and died for!

So here’s a Salvation Army person, a former Major who once helped run a rehab center, kowtowing to the world’s judgementalism. When I told her I’ve been sticking up for the homeless, including contacting commissioners, she snapped “what’s that going to do?”  She added that the librarian has  complete sovereignty and belittled me. She asked “didn’t your parents teach you to respect authority?”  It’s no wonder that she goes through a door marked “private”, as she was demoted from Major (joke).

Many of the druggies in the Levittown have gotten mixed in with the homeless. After getting kicked out of recovery houses, many of them end up with the homeless, and cause problems. This may be one reason people don’t like the homeless.

There was a town hall meeting in Bristol Township, PA on Thanksgiving eve to address the problem of recovery houses in the area to protect the community and property values, while helping people with their addictions. The council did not approve the motion by council vice-president for a moratorium on recovery houses because they believed it would be overrided by the Feds.  http://levittownnow.com/2015/11/27/officials-announce-support-for-recovery-house-moratorium/ 

Drug addiction is a problem, especially in Bucks County, PA, not just for the addict but for the communities.

In one neighborhood, it was reported that crime greatly increased since a recovery house moved in.

Part of the problem is the recovery houses themselves. There have been reports of overcrowding,

Recently I met a guy who runs a recovery house in the area. He pointed out that all the recovery houses are not bad, and that he runs a tight ship. He said the neighbors don’t even know we’re here.  Some recovery houses, he said “are just a business.”

The state of Pennsylvania has been addressing how to regulate recovery houses, mainly for safety.

People running recovery houses need to be held accountable, not just for safety factors such as overcrowding, but for professionalism — that they do what’s best for the addicts and the community.

Even if the recovery houses get their act together, there still should be a moratorium on them.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, addicts will continue their destructive behavior, to themselves and others. Addicts have been coming from outside of Bucks County, PA for the recovery houses. With more houses we risk more rogue druggies who, like the Frankenstein monster, are set loose on the community.

One recovering alcoholic told me that addicts should have to suffer the consequences of their destructive behavior — that we should not make it too easy for them to get into a recovery house, so there would not be a revolving door of addicts who aren’t seriously trying to resolve their problem.   Good point. This friend seems to be getting his act together.

Another friend with an alcohol problem isn’t doing as well. He started out well, after people tirelessly ministered to him and after finally coming to grips what he’s doing to himself and people he loves, and went to a short term treatment center. Less than a week before the program ended, he stormed out of a meeting and since has been getting kicked out of friend’s places.

The last time he got kicked out, which was the second time this friend kicked him out, his girlfriend asked me to pick him up and take him to the library. I told her that I’m not going to bail him out everytime he screws up. This kind of thing makes him too comfortable in his choices and he doesn’t realize the consequences of his actions.My friend took a step or two, but has a long way to climb before reaching the top of the 12 steps. My friend who is getting his act together said that many addicts don’t advance after a few steps.

At the local 12 Steps program I’ve been attending the past several months, I’ve seen people come and go. One night we had to set up extra tables. There has been a handful of people who have attended the program regularly since I started going. Now advanced, they mentor others and they have pinch hitted for the guy who regularly leads the meetings.

This local program is not just for drunks and druggies, but for people with other problems, such as anxiety and anger management.

Check it out.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/

The Parable of The Cockroach

I feel like Gregor in Kafka’s parable of the cockroach, Metamorphosis, where Gregor struggles to get out of his bed in the morning because he turns into a cockroach. His mother keeps calling him to get up, he finally rolls to the floor. His boss is on the other side of the door.  Gregor manages to open the door, scares everybody, chases his boss, but his dad chases him back into the room and he goes to sleep.

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

When we studied Metamorphosis in my psychology in literature class, a fellow student remarked that the character in Kafka’s story just didn’t want to face the world.

That’s me lately.

More and more homeless people come drifting into Levittown, PA, some of them from far away. William F. Buckley once said “Mr. Clinton has a tendency to appoint people who have problems”. Lower Bucks County, PA has become a magnet for the homeless, many of them with problems.

I’ve been hearing people with problems calling me, and like Gregor, I feel just as much the cockroach trying to get out of bed as he did. In many cases, they have gotten themselves into a jam, and want someone to bail them out. Some members of this community compound the problem but acting irresponsibly. In some cases they are looking for a scapegoat, as they want someone to blame their problems on, and make things up.

The most recent false witness was about me. When I walked into a community lunch, I was told that someone accused me of informing Bucks County Rangers as to where someone with a warrant can be found. Lie! The Kafkaesque reasoning is that this is so because I talk to the rangers. Holy non sequitur, Batman!

Yes, I do talk to rangers. I’ve contacted the chief Bucks County ranger to try to resolve problems in the homeless community. I addressed concerns for people’s property during the recent raid on the homeless in the woods by the Levittown public library. Steve (the chief) told me that there had been complaints about drug use. Syringes were found all over the woods. There were people living in the woods who had outstanding warrants, he wrote.

The last time I talked with a ranger was to keep him updated about a mutual friend whom he helped get into a treatment center for alcoholism.

Since then, our friend stormed out of treatment, and is, in the words of Bob Dylan:

“…on your own

No direction home

Like a rolling stone”

He’s been drifting from place to place, after having problems, alcohol induced.

The ranger also asked me if I had seen a certain person who had a warrant. I had not for some time. The ranger asked me to pass on the message that it’s to the guy’s advantage to turn himself in, before the rangers bring him in.

I have no idea what the warrant is for. I can only surmise that it’s for something between jaywalking and murder. It could be the equivalent of killing a deer in the King’s woods. The guy may have put up a structure without the permission of the county, although it’s OK to put up shelters for homeless cats, in an area designated for passive recreation.  Sometimes, as Charles Dickens wrote “the law is an ass.”

For sure, criminals, especially thieves — many of them druggies — muggers, and murderers need to be brought to justice. This element hurts the homeless community; it reflects badly on them. Unfortunately, most people can’t distinguish between who is naughty and who is nice when they look at homeless people. When members of the homeless community act stupid, people, even I, morph into Kafka’s cockroach when we hear cries for help.

The chief ranger also asked me to convince the homeless to take advantage of the “assistance” opportunities listed on the eviction notices the rangers left throughout the woods. I emailed a Bucks County Commissioner and an electronic carbon copy to  Steve and explained that these opportunities are not viable. Based on my own knowledge, comments from the homeless, and common knowledge, I found this is no solution. There is a one to two year wait for housing in Bucks County! One even has to wait for months to get into the temporary shelter!

The commissioner never replied to my email.

When I first started hanging out with the homeless about 1 1/2 years ago, a mentor advised me to use discernment about the people with whom I associate. I found there are wolves (like the Pennsylvania governor) in sheep’s clothing.

There’s a young druggie who acts much like Shakespeare’s King Lear’s daughters, Regan and Goneril.  http://shakespeare.about.com/od/kinglear/a/Regan-And-Gonerill-From-King-Lear-Character-Profile.htm

She, like Lear’s daughters, flatter and talk sweet to people, especially guys, only to get what she wants from them and dismisses them. She cons money from people she befriends, and when they are of no use to her, she may as well throw them in the trash. And she steals.

Tis the season, and she may have the opportunity to be an ornament on the back of a motorcycle, an object of affection.

Some concerned citizens and I have been trying to come up with a plan to create shelter for the homeless. We’ve been kicking around ideas. One homeless guy pitched the idea of having an office where the organization can filter people — direct people who need treatment for addictions to treatment centers and send people who just need a place to stay where that’s all it is. I think this is a good idea.

Lately I’ve noticed homeless people trying to help one another and build one another up and engaging in intelligent, sometimes humorous conversation. The community meals have been mostly drama free lately and have been a real blessing, with a sense of camaraderie.

When I’m overloaded with all the drama with people around me, I realize I shouldn’t crawl up like a cockroach, but rather seek the shelter God provides.  At least temporarily, I’m in a better place than the homeless, as Nehemiah was then “those who survived the exile” when the wall of Jerusalem was “broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.”  Nehemiah left his zone of comfort to help rebuild the city.

After resting with God and regrouping, I’ll see about helping the homeless, of course, using discernment.

Bad Moon Arising

“I see the bad moon arising. I see trouble on the way. I see earthquakes and lightnin’. I see those bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight, Well it’s bound to take your life, There’s a bad moon on the rise.

I hear hurricanes a blowing. I know the end is coming soon. I fear rivers over flowing. I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

Bad Moon Arising, Credence Clearwater Revival

“We all have baggage,” said a former homeless guy in lower Bucks County, PA. Recognizing you have a problem is the first step in getting your act together. When he was homeless, he learned how to deal with his baggage, and as a result was able to improve conditions for himself and fellow homeless.

If left unchecked, our “baggage”, our addictions, anti-social behavior and other problems, can lead to destruction. I know, I’ve been there. I also know that it isn’t too late. It wasn’t in my case.

And Carol King’s thesis “it’s too late, baby it’s too late…” doesn’t apply to my homeless friend who is getting treatment for alcoholism. He fell down, but he is not out. People who have been there before are helping him help himself.

He was one of the clowns who caused the homeless to be banned for a time from the Levittown Veteran’s Memorial when they were drunk and disorderly. The others involved have continued their destructive behavior.

The homeless don’t have to be that way, just because they are homeless. People have choices.

My friend is starting to fully realize that he can’t make it on his own. I occasionally remind him that there’s no such thing as the Lone Ranger Christian. He is on the right path and has made the right choice. Some of us have been encouraging him, despite his occasional urge to think he’s strong enough to leave the nest, to stay on the right track.

This time of year, with all the crass materialism static from the money grubbers who hijacked Christmas (they are the real Grinch who stole Christmas) to use it as a means to their ends, it’s important to know the real reason for the season.

What’s it’s all about, Alfie, is taking to heart God’s sacrifice for sinners and showing concern, compassion for others, especially the less fortunate. And it’s just not about material things. Some people are down spirited, especially this time of year.

It’s been said that depression is high during the Christmas season. A lot of it has to do with the emptiness of materialism and people feeling like nobody cares. The Christmas hype just doesn’t cut it!

Instead of envy, pettiness and fighting, people need to help and edify one another. At a community meal for the homeless and those in need, someone at my table questioned why the homeless are bickering with one another when they could be working together. I agree.

Greed, which runs rampant this time of year, alienates people and causes problems.

Compare Frank Norris’s McTeaque, about the social problems that resulted from the greed of the Gold Rush era, with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the novel about how a homeless family worked with others in their plight. In McTeaque, greed caused contention between individuals, just as does some of today’s homeless people who want all the booze or cigarettes.

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

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

Gluttony is a form of greed that causes problems. After I lost my house, I was invited to live rent free in a house in exchange for taking handicapped people to their doctor’s appointments and shopping and doing various chores around the property. One of them incessantly demanded I pick up monster drinks and other small items for her, in addition to weekly shopping.

A showdown came two days after our weekly shopping, which included picking up a few pounds of lunch meat for two people. The glutton wanted me to take them shopping again because they pigged out and finished the lunch meat in two days! I put my foot down and said “no.” There was other food in the house, but they demanded their lunch meat.

The glutton told me her father-in-law, who owns the house, would pick up the lunch meat. Shortly thereafter, after I schlepped many bags of food into the house after weekly shopping, the old man, a retired Brown Shirt with the United Auto Workers Union, told me I wasn’t shopping for his son and daughter-in-law as agreed and demanded I “get out and take your stuff, before I throw it out!” This guy is Jeff Dunham’s Walter on steroids!

In the Steinbeck novel, people worked together as a team in order to survive their ordeal.

When I first started hanging around the homeless about 1 1/2 years ago, they helped one another — with food and shelter, and schooled them where they could go for assistance and were there for moral support.

One free walk in program I’d recommend, which has helped me get rid of my baggage that weighs me down is the 12 steps journey, held Tuesday evenings in Levittown and Saturday nights in Newtown. http://www.12stepjourney.com/ See schedule on link.

All people matter, including the homeless. When the bad moon rises over the homeless, don’t moon them but encourage them to improve themselves. I’d encourage everyone to dump bad baggage.

Up On The Roof

“When this old world starts a getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space…

Up on the roof”

— James Taylor, Up on The Roof

People are sometimes just too much for me to face, and I feel like having Scotty beam me up and I’ll drift right into space. Indeed, we all need an occasional retreat, a time to stand down, recuperate, reboot, but we have to come back and face the real world.

In my last blog, I talked about showing grace to difficult people. I wrote that there must be rules and borders. But when people don’t follow rules they agreed to it’s tempting to give up on them — write them off.

I was brought up old school. When I was in elementary school, there was an area marked off in the school yard as “out of bounds”. Kids didn’t dare cross the line and go “out of bounds”. No! For shame for shame, if we did. Unfortunately today, in the tradition of The Noble Savage, borders are evaporating, between countries and are codified in the term “Generation X.”

Some people close to me are having trouble following rules and are going out of bounds. One is undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. Yet, like seven out of ten smokers who contract lung cancer, according to information at the cancer center, she continues to smoke, despite continued warnings and explanations why she needs to stop from the medical community. She’s also a sporadic drunk, overdoing wine on four occasions since I met her a year ago.

She’s also taken other substances to excess.

A nurse said that a little red wine, unlike a little smoking, is good for her, but because she’s underweight and because of her medical condition, excess alcohol can have a devastating effect.

Not only is this creating problems for her; it’s creating problems for me because I’m left with the mess. Her destructive, reckless behavior is driven by her attitude that she just wants to give up on life — she has no reason to live. I’ve tried to help her change this attitude, and it’s tough.

Frustrated, and angry, I lost my temper again and started to put her down — just giving up on her.

I realize my attitude was wrong. A Christian sister pointed out that my friend has been suffering from a disease that’s been eating away at her for about a year and that the right thing to do is to show compassion and have patience with her.

I am calling myself out on this blog, as I don’t make exceptions.

Christians are sinners saved by grace, and I am no exception. As the apostle Paul wrote, don’t let sin dominate in your life. The key is to confess your shortcomings to God and ask his help to overcome them.

I apologized to my friend and am striving, with God’s help, to show more compassion and patience with her, while trying to hold her to the rules, which she agreed to, and setting borders.

Instead of just being an escape from the world, I climbed the stairway to heaven to seek God’s help in dealing with the world. As the Bible says, be in the world but not of the world.

The world, as evidenced in Bucks County, PA, is in bad shape and needs help.  Bucks County is number one for heroine addiction in Pennsylvania and number two in the country.  People are dying.  When I went to my 40th high school reunion in neighboring Montgomery County a few years back, I learned that several of my classmates died from drug overdoses.

A little while back, I overheard an eye opening conversation in the men’s room at the public library in Levittown, PA.  A guy remarked that drugs are getting more deadly and added that addicts don’t care; the only thing that’s important to them is getting high.

There is a big homeless problem in Bucks County; many people struggle to find a place to live.  The government is failing the homeless.

We live in a hurting world.  The Bible believing churches need to step up their efforts to minister to the world, though positive thought and deed — by reaching out to people.  In lower Bucks County, churches have been doing a lot to meet the material and spiritual needs of hurting people.  We need more.

One of the hosts at a community meal for the homeless and needy said that she wished her small church could do more for people.  Besides graciously providing material things, they have been making their “friends without walls”, as they call them, feel at home and wanted.  Collectively, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

Being there for someone with any need, such as depression, goes a long way.  This blog illustrates how concerned Christians can help others.  http://www.theclause.org/2014/03/mental-illness-the-christian-perspective/

The church needs to have an positive affect on society, influencing society and not vice versa.  One’s  faith should not be privately engaging but socially irrelevant.  An good example of this is a free program that addresses people need help is the 12 Step Journey Program held in churches in Levittown.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/

“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

 

They’re Coming to Take Me Away!

Recently, a homeless person told me she is offended at the idea that all homeless people have mental problems. I suspect one reason for that is the stereotype people have of homeless people, an element of Hobophobia. (The extreme and utter fear of hobos, or the homeless. This is usually caused by the lack of exposure to the homeless throughout the world. A dose of homelessness is an easy cure to Hobophobia.)  Another reason is business, public funding, especially for Penndel Mental Health Center, Penndel, PA whose snake oil salesmen canvas more aggressively than Jehovah’s Witnesses.

One particular snake oil salesman from Bucks County, PA, who has been known to show up at tent cities and is almost a fixture at the public library in Levittown, PA, offered me housing if I would submit to being labeled a mental patient — that I was so messed up that I could never work.

This, as I told the man, would be fraud. This is also economic protectionism, by giving an institution an unfair advantage.

For sure, I’ve had problems with anxiety, depression, pent up anger, etc., but I’m no lost cause. I’ve taken this to God and have had help from my Christian brothers and sisters. One place I’ve found help, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, is the peer-to-peer 12 steps program held Tuesday nights in Levittown and Saturday nights in Newtown.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

If you need help to work out problems, I’d highly recommend this program.  It’s free and all that is needed is your time and attention.

What is wrong with the mentally ill? The term “mentally ill” has become part of the way we talk about people with major problems. Some experts, however, don’t think this is an accurate term. They don’t think that people with mental problems should be labeled as being ill.  For them, “illness”, such as the flu, is caused by a virus. They ask what is the source that causes mental illness.

Is mental illness an implant from a space invader?  Hummmmm…

Some experts think that addictions are a disease. In a sense, they are right. Some people may have genes that cause them to crave more of something, such as alcohol. Problems can result from giving in to urges such as these.

The problem is controlling your addictions. This is where a program such as 12 Steps can help.

The first step is to admit you have a problem. A recovering addict recently told me that the inability to overcome an addiction is a result of weak mindedness. He also said that the only way to have the strength to overcome the problem is to have God intervene.

Mental problems stem from sin. Sometimes we have mental problems because of our actions; other times it’s just a result of original sin. In either case, God can help.

We all have flaws. Consider the “T” in the Calvinists’ TULIP:

T – Total Depravity

“Humanity is stained by sin in every aspect: heart, emotions, will, mind and body. This means people cannot independently choose God. God must intervene to save people.”

Sin has affected people in different ways and degrees. Many people with problems with are not taken away on the disoriented express, although, as I mentioned, some mental institutions will lure people into their roles who don’t need their services.

As I’ve mentioned before, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung related a story where, when “an intelligent layman” visited an insane asylum with him, the layperson remarked that the people he saw were like everyday people, only with problems that were greatly magnified.

People have problems when their thoughts and actions are not in sync with God’s precepts.

Some people have trouble handling problems on their own, but they don’t necessarily need to be institutionalized. Pastor and Counselor Jay Adams found that most people in nuthouses don’t need to be there.  http://www.nouthetic.org/about-ins/our-faculty/8-about-ins/6-jay-adams-biography 

Overcoming problems such as addictions can be a lengthy process. It often requires lifetime maintenance, the same way I need to apply medication to my feet to fight fungus for the rest of my life.  Accepting Christ as Savior is a good start, but being molded more like Him is a lifelong process, known as sanctification.

Being human, we still will mess up, but God will help us get on the right path again, if we submit to his will.

What’s important to help people with problems, including addictions, if finding the right place — where they have the best opportunity to recovery.

I started to fall into the same trap as those who stereotype the homeless, by not distinguishing the quality of different recovery houses in Levittown. Like the homeless, they are not all bad.

Some neighbors near the Levittown recovery houses have complained about problems from the houses, such as the clients running around the neighborhood raising a ruckus. Some of them have become a virtual Lord of the Flies.

I recently met someone who runs a recovery house who pointed out that he runs an orderly house, where there are rules and borders. Unlike some institutions, it’s not just a business but a mission. The guy told me the neighbors don’t even know it’s a recovery house.

We need to find the best ways to help people using the free market concept. A good example of this is school choice, where the parents, not bureaucrats, choose the school. Contrary to the public school teacher’s union’s spin, school choice does not aim to put public education out of business.

According to a pro school choice website, public schools improved in areas where parents had a choice where they can send their kids.

The county government should just accommodate  institutions  where people get help, not run them. Like parents of school children, people should have a choice.

The homeless are not all mental cases. One size does not fit all.

It should not be “all aboard” the disoriented express for the homeless. They and people who genuinely care about them should have some say about what train they ride. I for one prefer the train that’s bound for glory.

One of the things we learn in the 12 Step Journey program is that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (step 2).

They’re coming to take me away ho ho he he ha ha
to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time, and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
and they’re coming to take me away ha ha

You thought it was joke and so you laughed, you laughed when I had said that losing you would make me flip my lid, right? You know you laughed, I heard you laugh, you laughed, you laughed and laughed and then you left, but now you know I’m utterly mad…”

They’re coming to take me away. Not!

http://www.metrolyrics.com/theyre-coming-to-take-me-away-lyrics-lard.html

Where Have All The Homeless Gone?

The homeless have been cleared out of the woods near the public library in Levittown, PA.  Some of them got to where they needed to go — in one case, because of an overdose. In another the result of a Bucks County Ranger convincing a guy with a drinking problem to go to a place where he can get help.

I visited my homeless friend there and attended the orientation. I think this place will work, unlike Penndel Mental Health Center, whose snake oil salesmen round up the homeless as patients by hook or crook and rely heavily on drugs and psychobabble. At the orientation, the director said that God is an addict’s ultimate hope.

Except for a few instances, the woods were cleared out Roundup style, which kills everything — the weeds and the grass.

There is still the matter of where the guy will go to lead an independent, productive, healthy life after he’s done the program.

The ranger who sent the guy in the right direction was part of a team of people who had tirelessly ministered to him. This is how we need to deal with the homeless problem in Bucks County, PA.  People in the community need to develop relationships with the homeless, working with them for their betterment of the community to lend a hand up to help themselves, rather than using the one-size-fits all Roundup approach, treating all homeless like weeds.

Although some of the homeless, as is the case in any population, are problematic, especially the druggies, they are all human, fallen creatures like the rest of us but made in the image of God.

It’s good that the homeless guy in this case, with a little help from his friends, was able to find a good place, at least for the time being. For all the homeless there needs to be a place they can call home.

Some homeless only need a place to stay.

“If I did drugs, I could find a place. If I was an alcoholic, I could find a place. If you’re just on hard times, there’s nowhere to go.” said a homeless man about to be evicted from an encampment.

http://articles.philly.com/2012-05-02/news/31519830_1_homeless-tent-city-homeless-count-homeless-enclave

The so called “opportunities” section of the eviction notices posted in the woods is a bridge to nowhere.  One homeless guy told me he called all the numbers, and the best opportunity he found was they “could not do anything for him unless he had children. A friend with lung cancer I’m taking care of and I have been on shelter lists for months.  Fortunately, we’ve found an adequate place to stay, at least temporarily.

Not everybody is able to do this.

Bucks County has known about the homeless problem in Bucks since the late 80’s. People have been trying to match vacant property, which is greater than the homeless population, with people needing housing for some time. I emailed a county commissioner with the idea of designating some unused county land for the homeless, but the response was this would jeopardize their opportunities for the so-called opportunities listed on the eviction notice.

This situation reminds me of the Ronald Reagan joke: A shopkeeper asked a woman who was getting married for the third time why she would wear white. The woman explained that right after the first wedding, the groom had a heart attack. After her second wedding she had an argument with the groom and the wedding was annulled. The third time she married a Democrat. He just sat on the edge of the bed for four years and told her how good it would be.

Talk is cheap.

The Bucks County Rangers have a tough job. They are caught in the middle. The Bucks County Commissioners and other politicians, unlike the Rangers who have to go out and face the people who camp on public lands because they have no place else to go, are out of touch with the homeless.  Evidently, to them, the homeless are just weeds that need to be removed, wanting to have a manicured suburban lawn complete with the personal peace and prosperity including a white picket fence.

The ranger who convinced the homeless man to get the help he needs is a step in the right direction.

At the guy’s orientation, the director said he knew the guy who runs the local 12 Step Program, which my friend said he wants to attend.

It’s a step in the right direction.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

Where have all the Homeless gone?

The bigger question is where will they go?

 

The Bridge to Nowhere

Up north, where the doggies go and make the yellow snow, in Alaska, awhile back the governor stopped a boondoggle known as “the bridge to nowhere”.  Recently, the commissioners in Bucks County, PA have been trying to build a bridge for the homeless, moving them out of public woods and into shelter.

Like the proposed Alaskan bridge to nowhere, except for the drunks and druggies and people with “mental problems” in the population, the “offer” Bucks County is making to the homeless who just need a place to stay goes nowhere.

Chief Bucks County Ranger Steve Long just told me that there have been complaints about drug use in the woods under county jurisdiction. Syringes were found and it’s believed there are people wanted by the authorities back in the woods where the homeless have been living.

These people need to be out of there and someplace where they can get treatment.

The problem with the druggie homeless population is that many of them don’t want to get help.  Recently, a young lady with a drug problem, whom people couldn’t convince to at least go to the ER, was finally dragged out of the woods after she overdosed and was taken for treatment.  It’s like the W.C. Fields character who, as a bouncer is physically dragging him out of the bar says “that does it, I’m leaving.”

Unfortunately, the behavior of a few cause problems for the rest of the homeless community. As a result, to continue to borrow silly limericks I used in my lead from singer Frank Zappa, Rangers have been popping up in the woods and saying “peek-a-boo.”

The options for people who are just going through hard economic times are just as silly as Frank Zappa lyrics.   Getting a permanent place in Bucks County may take up to two years. Even the temporary shelter next to the Levittown Public Library takes months to get in.  A friend and I are still waiting for both.

There is an option for people with addiction problems which I think is an alternative the Penndel Mental Health Center, which by the way is being offered as a Talisman to housing, even for those who don’t wish to go to the mental health center. This reminds me of my brother-in-law whom I went to buy auto insurance, but he tried to make me get home owner’s insurance as part of the deal. Like the dog who wanted an extra bone and dropped the bone he had, there was no deal at all and I walked away.

The alternative to Penndel Mental Health is the Salvation Army ARC program in Trenton, NJ.

http://roadtorehab.com/Salvation-Army-Adult-Rehabilitation-Center-22947.html

But for people who just ain’t got no home, there is really no option.

The Bucks County Commissioners have stressed “the highest priority must be given to getting assistance to those in need.”

On behalf of the commissioners, Steve (Chief Ranger) asked me to convince the homeless to accept the offer of assistance being made by the advocates and volunteer agencies.

I’m not convinced that this is a viable offer.

The homeless problem is a tough situation.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I think we have to renegotiate the offer.

Let’s hope that, like the W.C. Fields character, the homeless don’t have to be dragged out of the woods, with their personal belongings confiscated!