They Are Weak But…

In a conversation at our table at a recent community meal for the homeless and needy, we talked about a guy who came to an earlier meal drunk and disorderly and was consequently banned from the bus temporarily. Someone remarked that we have to realize that people have weaknesses.

For sure, we all have weaknesses. It’s just a matter of what kind and to what degree.

We need to reach out to help people who become slaves to alcohol or other substances, to food, material things, romantic relationships and so on. Throughout history, humans have worshipped false gods, idols. A woman said of her then boyfriend that he thinks he can find the answer to problems in the bottle.

Today, drug abuse has become an epidemic! In lower Bucks County, PA, I know more than a dozen people who have a drug problem. And a few who abuse alcohol.

Why? “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” -2nd Corinthians 4:4

I remember an interview years ago with a minister who reached out to gangs and troubled youths  to try to resolve problems. The interviewer asked him what he would do before he could help them change – if a group of thugs closed in on him in an alley. “Then I would put on my P.F. Flyers and run,” he quipped.

The point is that when people engage in destructive, anti-social behavior, the only recourse is to restrain that behavior. Actions have consequences, and when other people are offended or hurt by someone’s behavior, justice demands that they answer for their actions.

But offenders need to have an opportunity to help themselves and work on resolving their problems, overcoming their weaknesses. A victim of someone with a weakness told me that if he were ever going to file a complaint, he would insist to the authorities that the offender be offered treatment in lieu of a fine or other punishment.

I once had a difference of opinion with a law enforcement ranger at a Pennsylvania State Park where I worked about crime. The ranger’s take was that once someone got into the criminal system, he automatically became a career criminal. That someone who enters the criminal system is a hopeless case, trapped in a pattern of sin and criminality was a prevailing view held in the prison system more than 150 years ago, and to some extent today. To counter that view, I cited the case of the short story writer known as O. Henry, who was sentenced to five years in jail for embezzlement. In jail, O. Henry spent his time doing constructive things, including writing. He was released after three years for good behavior and then continued to be a productive, law abiding member of society.

“He was being punished!”, the ranger snapped. He then Augustly said that my view doesn’t agree with the state of Pennsylvania. That didn’t convince me. I don’t subscribe to the view that just because the state decrees something, like King Ozymandias, it doesn’t mean it’s so. The state is not infallible. It is not God!

I believe that people can be restored, their weaknesses overcome. The Bible abounds with examples of people God strengthened, made right. You should read it sometime. The problem with our culture today is that we took God out of the picture.

People can change. But they have to be willing to work on their weaknesses. We should at least offer help. As Lord Alfred Hayes used to say on World Federation Wrestling when he promoted an aftershave that women like men to wear, “the rest is up to you.”

No matter how far you’ve fallen, God can restore you.

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” -Joel 2:25

She’s Leaving Home

Back in the 70’s, evangelist Francis Schaeffer said that a problem in America is that people are too hung up on their personal peace and prosperity. Today, people will camp out overnight for a sale or to get the latest electronic gadget. This behavior is not only tolerated, but applauded.

Yet when the homeless scour out a place to camp just to survive, they are considered criminal trespassers. Aside from the fact that some of the homeless have caused problems, the problem the establishment has with of the homeless in places such as Bucks County, PA is that their presence shakes up their bourgeois world.

With such a materialistic, living in a bubble world view, it’s no wonder people, especially the younger generation, turn to drugs. A new drug, an extremely lethal synthetic opioid, is entering the black market, coming to a local drug pusher near you soon in Bucks County.

The Beatles sung about the bankruptcy of materialism in a song on their Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album: She’s Leaving Home. In the song, the parents don’t understand why their little girl is leaving home.

“She (We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years. Bye, bye”

The problem: “Something inside that was always denied for so many years
She’s leaving home, bye, bye.”

As Astro, the family dog on The Jetsons cartoon would say “Rares rumthing wrong rear, Reorge.”

As the fictional girl who left home in the old Beatles’ song found, material things leave us running on empty.

Since the 60’s, people have tried to find meaning through drugs and expanding their minds in other ways such as pagan Eastern religion.

In the 70’s, Dr. Schaeffer said that the counter culture of the 60’s correctly diagnosed social problems, but their remedy was worse than the disease. Many of the 60’s hippies devolved into YUPPIES, who have become just as unhip and materialistic as the former establishment.

The term “yuppie” derived from “young upwards mobile professional”, who made a lot of money. It originally had a negative connotation in that a yuppie would do anything to make a buck, no ethics. Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, there was honor among businessmen. A handshake sealed a deal, and it was honored. When I worked a temporary job about 1990, I overheard someone saying that a contractor was asking for money the company owed him, but they didn’t have to pay him because they didn’t have a contract.

The Brave New World culture of the 60’s is manifested in politicians such as Hillary Clinton, where talk is cheap and everyday people without fame and fortune are treated differently than are the limousine liberals or their pets. It’s also found at the public library in Levittown, PA. The librarian, a fan of Hillary Clinton, treats the homeless who visit the library as persona non grata and constructively tries to evict them from the library while she gives a pass to the unruly kids of the soccer moms, who run rampant in the library as if it’s a playground.

The social engineering of the left, drugs, booze and other institutions have not brought true peace and good order to our society.

There is, however, hope. It’s found in God:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Substance abuse and other social maladies continues to plague our land. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men seem to be having trouble putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

There’s a reason for all the social problems we’ve had the past several decades. It’s where are heart is, what we treasure. After WWII, we turned back to God. Today, we’ve become an Obama Nation.

We are reaping what we sow. The drug problem, for example.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:21

Down But Not Out

Rick Proudfoot was an electrician. Because of the economy, he couldn’t find work and became homeless. He ended up sleeping in city parks; the penalty for which is $300 or 30 days in jail.

But this was only for a season. Somehow he found his way to Dignity Village, an official homeless community in Portland, Oregon. For two years now, he’s been CEO of the self-funded, self managed, and self governed community.

Lisa Larson was on the street for two years, camping on sidewalks and sleeping in abandoned buildings. While serving time in jail with her husband for chronically violating the ban against homeless camping in Milwaukie, Oregon, another homeless person told her about Dignity Village. Today she’s the village’s chief executive officer and the official spokesperson for Dignity Village.

Unlike Curly of The Three Stooges, you don’t have to be a victim of circumstances. You can get out of that place, if it’s the last thing you ever do and make a better life.

The moral of the story is not to write off people who are down and out. Homeless people have the potential to improve their lot.

People in Bucks County, PA should learn a lesson from these success stories. Here in Bucks, the homeless are often written off a never-do-wells, and the establishment just wants to keep them down. The conventional wisdom is that the average homeless person is a mental case, druggie or drunk. People who frequent the library want them removed without cause. On one occasion a county official said that people were not comfortable visiting the nearby Veterans Memorial when the homeless are there.

There certainly are some mental cases in the group. I’ve gathered that at least two of them who attend the community meals are complete nutcases. And there are a few drunks and druggies. The druggies are generally refugees from the local recovery houses that the feds have pushed on the community in lower Bucks County. There are about 100 of them just in Levittown, PA. The biggest thing the homeless are hooked on is tobacco.

The homeless in Bucks County are fair game for the mental health industry, whose hustlers aggressively canvas the homeless community to sign them up for their services and use taxpayer funds. When I was on a quest for housing, Alan Johnson, now with Bucks County Family Services, said he’d find housing for me if I was willing to write myself off as being so messed up mentally I could not work the rest of my life. He’s made that offer to others.

Alan once told me that he doesn’t subscribe to housing first. He said that people have to get straight before they move into a residence. This presupposes that all homeless people are dysfunctional. I vehemently disagree!

Many of the homeless in lower Bucks County work, some sporadically, some somewhat regularly. One guy, for example, one of the “library people” is a professional homeless person. He quit jobs because he doesn’t want to work but just wants handouts and to play video games in the library all day. Many of the homeless, however, are serious about working. At one of the community meals I overheard a conversation between two homeless guys who have been working sporadically. They agreed that they want to get into a work routine.

Some homeless people have gotten good jobs and are living like everyone else.

If they are willing, homeless people can change their circumstances, given the opportunity. Even those who abuse drugs and alcohol can change. It’s good that churches in the area are reaching out to the homeless and not just helping them with physical needs; they help them with their problems. At one community meal, one of the hosts ministered to a guy with a drug problem, one on one. Sometime after that, I saw him at a temporary treatment center. He realized the seriousness of the problem and told me he is determined to persevere with treatment. I believe he moved on to a longer term treatment center.

Another guy recently returned to the community and got clean. At one of the community meals a host announced that he was going to give his testimony.

Ultimately, it’s God who can deliver people, no matter what the problem, if you let Him.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”

–Nahum 1:7

Wossamotta U.

I keep finding people who must be students at Wossamotta U. For about a year, I’ve been trying to help someone who had pneumonia, has COPD and lung cancer, but she continues to smoke. She’s also abused wine, sleeping pills, and other substances. She must have learned this from Wossamotta U.

Another student of this school of thought, instead of going to an exclusive school, decided to live on the street and use drugs, with the subsequent stealing and alienation from true friends.

There’s a lot of people, some of them homeless, who are letting booze ruin their lives. They are also wasting their money on tobacco and hurting their health.

I’ve met some people who dropped out of Wossamotta U. They have put their addictions at bay and are getting their lives in order, including finding a job and helping others.

I recently met some homeless people who seem to have overcome their addictions. Most of them have attributed this to going to God for help. One of them said that not being able to stop an addiction is a matter of weak mindedness and that God gives you the strength to get straight. Another guy told me that the first step of the 12 step program was to take to heart that God will give you the power to overcome problems.

A recovering addict said he found graduates of Wossamotta U. intolerant of his rejection of their university’s teachings and his getting a life. They don’t even want to hear views outside their alma matter, Wossamotta.

A guy with a drinking problem left Wossamotta U. and started getting his life together but got homesick and returned to Wossamotta U. Another guy at the same treatment center told me that, unlike the guy who prematurely left the nest and got drunk and had subsequent problems , he needed to stay the course, staying in the program as long as needed.

“Like a dog that returns to its vomit, so is a fool that is insane in his foolishness.”  — Proverbs 26:11, Aramaic Bible in Plain English.

I too have been to Wossamotta U., but have realized this school teaches the wrong things. I am a recovering Romantic. I sometimes see things the way I would like them but not the way they are.

Awhile back, I met and helped a homeless woman whom I became romantically attracted to. She was cute, could be charming, witty, bright, and could hold interesting, elevated conversations. But her dark side came out. I kept thinking that Darth Vader could be reformed. I was in denial.

After being dry for a season, she started hitting the bottle. Usually neat, she became a slob, throwing empty booze bottles all over the woods by her tent. She also frequently used the F-word and justified using it. She was a chronic thief and a pathological liar. After she tried to steal my cell phone, we went our separate ways.

Now that I’ve left Wossamotta U. I am learning, with God’s help, from my mistakes. About 1 1/2 years ago, I met a troubled homeless who came to me. She literally cried on my shoulder and was shaking. She seemed to blame her problems on others. Some things she claimed didn’t check out.

I didn’t aggressively seek the woman’s company and didn’t see her for several months, until I started seeing her at community meals. She had gained much needed weight, looked healthier, and her attitude seemed to have improved. Upon seeing me, she quickly snuggled up to me, asking me to sit at her table. When I’d run into her, my heart fluttered. We’ve embraced, sometimes kissed and held hands.

Still, I decided to keep my distance. Before long, she went downhill, looking bad and had a negative attitude, much like when I first met her.

When I occasionally see the woman, like Odysseus and his men who were attracted to the Sirens, the women on shore who lured their ship in, but got back on course and avoided shipwreck, I’m attracted to her but steer away, as I could end up in a destructive relationship.

Like Odysseus, in order to resist temptation, I have decided ahead of time what I would do when I see the woman.

Just the other day, I met a woman who said she overcame alcohol abuse. According to a recovering addict who knows her, she’s not out of the woods; she’s in the woods with others who could pull her down to their level if she lets them.  She’s been seeking out good friends, which would help her get her life in order.

We hit it off. Right after talking to her at the public library in Levittown, PA, I saw her at a community meal. She’s been very friendly. I’ve been thinking a lot about her, and I realize I need to keep my romantic nature in check. Like Robert Palmer, I’m addicted to love. One of the steps in the 12 steps program is to face it.

I just saw a program on PBS about prohibition. Like today’s war on drugs, it was a wasteful, expensive battle, and, which the documentary implied, contributed to the Great Depression. The country realized that banning alcohol because of the addictions of a few didn’t work.  Enter Alcoholics Anonymous’, which over time  created the 12 Steps program (it started with six steps) to deal with peoples’  drinking problems by changing them from the inside.

The narrator in the documentary said that the founders of AA returned to a belief system from a century before — worshipping God and following his ways.

Today we can resolve the rampant drug problem the same way, by returning to God. Drugs and other problems are symptoms of a culture that has turned away from God.  Fighting addictions is a constant battle, and we must be diligent to keep us, as it says in Proverbs,  from returning to our foolish insanity.

As Neil Young sang in The Needle and the Damage Done “there’s a little bit of it in everyone.”

Right here in Bucks County, PA is a free, drop in 12 Steps Program, which is modeled on the original AA program but addresses other addictions as well as problems such as anxiety and anger management. Based on their knowledge of and connection to God, the people running the program know what’s the matter with you. God certainly does.

Check it out:

In the Year 2525

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In the song, In The Year 2525, released in 1969 and played on the popular radio stations, the artist sings about a future society where people are essentially zombies, powered by drugs (some would call it medication) and machines.  What you think say and do is preprogrammed in the pill that was given to you.  No need for reaching out and getting things, because there is a machine doing that for you…

The mental health community tends to see medication (drugs) as a major means to control behavior.  It seems to me it is an industry.  Certainly, some medications are necessary, especially for short term, such as tranquilizers, but it seems to be a catch all in the mental health industry.

Although, like the rest of the population, the homeless have mental issues, and may need some kind of treatment/therapy, not all do, and medication isn’t always the answer.

Given a little help from their friends, people can help each other.  One evening, at the Veteran’s Memorial by the Levittown Public Library, where the local homeless and their friends congregate, they discussed their problems and their plight.  One homeless guy sprang out of his seat and exclaimed “this is turning into a therapy session”, and walked away.  Indeed, it was.  Nothing wrong with people, on their own, having a spontaneous therapy session.

People need to think on their own (I think Maslow called this “self actualizing”.)

The mental health industry seems to have a one track mind about medications, which seems the first line of defense to combat mental health issues.   I had some disturbing things happen to me, and I was having problems.   I talked with someone from a local mental health clinic.  Early on, maybe the first thing he asked was “would you be willing to take medication?”  When I mentioned herbal remedies, the mental health center rep summarily dismissed the notion, saying Augustly, that herbal remedies don’t work.

I guy I volunteer with said he believes that herbal remedies may work with some people, but others may need pharmaceuticals.

I tried Paxil.  Although my focus seemed to improve a little, I got the shakes.  I was told that this was just part of the break in period.   The shakes continued.  I was prescribed Gabapentin to stop the shakes.  That helped a little.  At some point, I did some research and found information on the herb Kava.

I started drinking Kava tea, which is available at some regular stores.  Shortly thereafter, I had my vitals taken, and they were great!  I also started calming down.  I wasn’t sure if it was the combination of the pharmaceuticals or exclusively the Kava tea that did the trick.

I’ve been off the Paxil a little more than a week and have just been drinking Kava tea at night.  A friend told me I don’t seem to get angry as easily since I stopped taking Paxil.  By the way, in my research I learned to steep the Kava tea in warm, not boiling water (which kills the beneficial ingredients) and use a little bit of creamer or milk with the warm water to draw out more of the good stuff.

I still get stressed out, mainly when there are triggers, but not as bad as I used to.  The Kava tea not only relaxed my mind but is a natural muscle relaxer.  I can sleep better in the car and if I have to get up to walk to the bathroom, I don’t have to worry about a cop suspecting me of public intoxication.

A guy in the 12Stepjourney program I’m in said that once I get squared away with God, through this peer-to-peer counseling program, I won’t need Paxil.

Herbal medicine started heading towards the ash heap of history, but it’s coming back.

There is an effort to cheat and not allow people to choose Kava in a free market.  Kava was banned in Germany, based on what was later shown to be a fraudulent study.  This is economic protectionism.

People need to think on their own, and not just parrot popular sound bites, such as “save the earth” and “stop global warming”.  I once saw a slogan on a pickup truck that read “Human caused global warming is a product of recycled Marxism, mixed with junk science.”  I thought about this and agree.

The establishment (remember that term Baby Boomers?) thinks all the homeless people need mental health treatment.  If you were doing word association, the word that comes to mind to some when one says “homeless” is “mental”.   Yes, there are crazy people in the homeless community who need help, but I’m not sure if legal drugs are going to help them.  Some of them became that way because they did drugs.

And homeless people are not helpless.  Given the chance, they can help themselves.

Homesteading the Homeless

Many homeless, like the rest of the population, have the skills and ability to build homes.  The only difference between the homeless and the rest of the population is that they don’t have a home.  They are not akin to the Walking Dead.   We don’t see zombies walking aimlessly  looking for people to eat  when we enter homeless territory in the woods.  No, they are not sub human creatures who can’t fit into society, although some of them, like Greta Garbo, want to be alone.

Given the opportunity, many homeless people can improvise and work with what they have.  Before he and his wife were evicted from the area of the woods where they encamped, a man told me about an idea he had for a small community to keep warm and dry in the winter, which is a challenge for homeless people when it’s cold and wet.

The man’s idea is to build, essentially, forts, with a wood burning stove and a vent for the smoke in the middle, big enough to shelter a half dozen or so tents.

Why not make what the homeless have been doing to survive legal?  It’s been the case that the police have come into the hideouts of those wanted by the law and took them to justice.  The homeless are no more danger to the community than the rest of the population is.  Only a small percentage of them are outlaws.  Most of them just can’t afford a home and are just surviving.

You can help the homeless help themselves:

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