The Content of Character

A young man, whom people invited into their home to get him out of the cold, turned their home into a horror movie, threatening the dog with a knife and smashing windows, as reported on Levittownnow.com. http://levittownnow.com/2017/01/12/cops-man-threatens-dog-knife-smashes-windows/   After showing the guy kindness, and hospitality, this is how he shows his appreciation. They cast their pearls before swine!

What struck me was the lead of the story. In fact the first three words read: “A homeless man…” was the perpetrator. Highlighting the ungrateful guest, whom police say may have going through drug withdraw or just having “a mental health episode” as being homeless was unnecessary. There is a lot of prejudice against the homeless in places like Bucks County, PA, and this is an unfair typecasting of the homeless, which fosters stereotypes and hobophobia, the irrational fear and distain of the homeless.

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you should realize that we have a drug abuse epidemic, especially here in Bucks County.

Not all druggies, or people who are prone to “mental health episodes”, whatever that means, are not homeless. Some of the residents of the recovery houses join the homeless population, where most of the members do not have these issues. Their issue is being homeless. Unfortunately, people lump them together simply because they are somewhat grouped in the same area.

The news is choked with stories of drug abusers and criminal activity, as well as mental problems. The homeless are simply a microcosm of society.

A 19 year old druggie who was living in an apartment with his girlfriend pawned her laptop and expensive watch. He also stole a Playstation 4 from his parent’s house, which he also pawned. All this was to support his drug habit. http://levittownnow.com/2016/12/27/cops-man-pawns-girlfriends-property/

A 59 year-old man, not homeless, fell into a “rapid descent into a major mental health problem” after coming home at four in the morning and he attacked his girlfriend with a knife. http://levittownnow.com/2016/10/15/mental-health-crisis-led-to-fatal-birthday-stabbing/

So you don’t have to be homeless to steal, fall into a rapid descent into a mental health problem and become violent and break windows.

In my nearly three years hanging out with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA, I’ve found only a small percentage of them who engage in bizarre behavior, enough to say they have mental problems. We all have problems, it’s just a matter of and degree. Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung related a story about visiting a mental asylum with “an intelligent layman”, who remarked that the inmates there were like everyday people, only that their problems were greatly magnified.

There is one nut among the few, who goes to the community meals for the homeless, I’ve nicknamed “Janis Joplin”. She doesn’t like anyone walking behind her; they have to keep a safe distance. At one particular dinner, after the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) had dropped off one load of people and they were finishing up, and as the hosts were rolling around the desert carts table to table, the second AHTN bus came.

People starting filing into the meal. Janis had just finished her meal, and asked the hosts, who were wheeling cupcakes a distance away to “give me my cupcake.” Nobody responded. She repeated the request, then shouted “does anyone speak English?” Still no response, as the hosts continued delivering the deserts table to table. “Give me my cupcake and I’ll go. Give me my cupcake!”, she beseeched, as she shook her open hand in front of her, emphatically.

Another nut, Queen Nora, was being served at the table at a community meal when she asked “do you have anything with beef?”, as if she were at a restaurant. Shortly thereafter, she walked over to a table where a cake sat, which the hosts would bring to each table. She started carrying the whole cake off herself! The hosts had to graciously as possible get the cake and put it back on the table.

Some of the homeless talk about Shakespeare. This was the topic of conversation one evening at the Veterans Memorial near the Levittown public library. In the library, many of the homeless read books and use the resources to look for jobs. One in particular worked doggedly and found a job. She went from living in her car, to the shelter, and then into an apartment.

At tonight’s community meal, a guy who had a job pending because he needed to update his ID, now has two jobs. Soon he may have a place. Several months back, another homeless friend got regular work, got his act together, found a place to live, and is self sufficient.

The woman I had mentioned in an earlier blog, who had given the hand warmers I gave her quite some time ago to another homeless person, has continued to work regularly, but she’s waiting for someone in housing to help her secure a place.

People are homeless for different reasons, and some deal with being homeless different ways. Some think the answer is in the bottle, and others do drugs. Many of the druggies are refugees from the local recovery houses, where there are an inordinate amount – some 100 just in Levittown, PA!

Others don’t, as Curly from The Three Stooges says, become a victim of soy cum stances, but apply themselves. Many of the homeless work sporadically and some find permanent work. Some of them read and educate themselves.  One guy not only could intelligently discuss Shakespeare, but he knows horticulture and landscaping.

Your station in life does not define you. Don’t judge someone by their housing status but by the content of their character!

Christmas Comes Once a Year

“Christmas comes once a year”
“And every man must have his share”
“Only poor Willy in the jail, drinking sour ginger beer”
-Famous phrase that plays on the radio in Guyana, South America at Christmastime

A poor Willy, a homeless guy known as T-Rex, is spending Christmas in jail in Bucks County, PA. I doubt he’s drinking sour ginger beer, but maybe sucking on sour grapes. Maybe, as a clergyman-host at a community meal where T-Rex was drunk and disorderly said, he has the opportunity to think about the sins he committed.

It is sad that someone has to spend Christmas in jail, or be in jail at all. But it’s also sad what T-Rex did to others that sent him to prison.

Standing in line at a lunch for the homeless and needy Saturday, a homeless guy behind me was angry at someone for calling the police on T-Rex and pointed him out — “at the front of the line”. He spouted “it’s terrible!” He had a problem that someone did something about criminal behavior. T-Rex came to several meals drunk and disorderly, culminating in knocking another guest down, cutting the back of his head.

So protecting the rights of others is terrible? Law and order is terrible?

Society must have rules. Otherwise society breaks down into barbarism, as was the case with English schoolboys in The Lord of The Flies. The point of the story is that there is evil with humans, and it must be restrained. The island the boys get stranded on is a microcosm of society.

https://www.enotes.com/topics/lord-of-the-flies

Not taking into account the potential for humans for doing evil can destroy us. The drug epidemic is places such as Bucks County continues to explode. There’s also been cases of people going into a rage after pressure builds up as anger and frustration festers. The latest incident, this close to Christmas, was when a woman evidently went haywire when she backed out of her driveway, flew all the way across the street, crashed through her neighbors house, then raced forward and smashed into her own house, making it unlivable.

http://levittownnow.com/2016/12/15/woman-crashes-through-two-homes/

During the Christmas holiday, people have been running around like mad hatters, in a frantic attempt to get everybody gifts and fighting, sometimes literally, over material things. They act like the painted boys when they were dancing madly around in a circle in The Lord of The Flies.

Years ago, when my parents visited some in laws for the first and last time, my mother remarked that there was no love in that family. “All they know how to do is to buy gifts for each other!”

For me, the bastardization of Christmas is like being in jail drinking sour ginger beer.

Meanwhile, our nudge from The Addiction Network keeps reminding us that “addiction is a disease.” No it’s not, and it is a result of the evil, which reared it’s ugly head in The Lord of The Flies, that is part of humanity. Christmas is about Jesus being born in the manger to save us from the sin the dwells within us and to make us right with God, saving us from eternal condemnation.

This Christmas, don’t be like poor Willy drinking sour beer in jail. Jesus came to earth to take us out of the darkness and into the light. God sets the prisoner free!

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” –Isaiah 61:1

Sorry About That, Chief!

A druggie who said “sorry” as he drove off with someone else’s SUV reminds me of Maxwell Smart in Mel Brooks’  TV series Get Smart. When I was in navigation school when I was in the Navy, I used a Smart line. In class, we plotted a ship’s course. The chief petty officer who taught the class looked at my work and said “Drinnan, you just ran the ship aground.”

“I did? Sorry about that, Chief!,” I quipped, talking like Maxwell Smart.

http://levittownnow.com/2016/10/24/cops-man-steals-toyota-driveway-yells-sorry-victim/

The guy’s impetuous behavior resulted in police chasing him through towns, with him running a red light, driving through a yard, weaving around other drivers, recklessly endangering not just himself but others, from Bensalem, through Levittown, and finally crashing in New Jersey.

He came down abruptly from his high and ended up in jail.

The druggie said he was “sorry” to the person from whom he stole the SUV. But, no doubt, he’s sorry about the consequences. As Oliver Hardy told Stan Laurel, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” The SUV thief not only got himself into trouble, but wronged the owner of the SUV.

He was driving a stolen vehicle, but evidently, he was driven by drugs and the dysfunctional thinking that fueled his behavior.

What was he thinking? Certainly not the right things.

Reckless behavior has become an epidemic in our society. We have lost our way and have become a Godless society. There’s a saying “you are what you eat.” Well, you are what you think. When you are not grounded in the gospel, then a Pandora’s Box is opened, letting in the evils of the world prompting dysfunctionality.

As reported in LevittownNow.com, just in the timespan from New Year’s 2016 to Spring 2016, 48 drug overdoses were reported in Levittown, and five of them died!

http://levittownnow.com/2016/03/25/must-see-sign-brings-drug-epidemic-to-forefront/

People abusing drugs not only hurt themselves, as was the case with the druggie driver, but others. Because of the inordinate number of recovery houses in Levittown, there is a long waiting line to get into the so-called Levittown emergency shelter.

People become dysfunctional when they are not rooted in Jesus.

“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

The Right Stuff

In 1949, after a group of recovering drunks and Alcoholics Anonymous  members founded Hazelden Farm, a Minneapolis refuge and treatment center, 93 percent of alcohol treatment centers used  AA concepts in their treatments. Also, AA got 31 percent of its membership from treatment centers.

What does that tell us?

It tells us that Alcoholics Anonymous has the right stuff. Or at least it is on the right track.

Today in Bucks County, PA, there are reports of pleas to have the government pass bills to fight the drug abuse epidemic. For example, The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015.  As reported in LevittownNow.com, The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will:

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts — particularly aimed at teenagers, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations — to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery;
  • Expand the availability of Naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives;
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment;
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents;
  • Launch an evidence-based opioids and heroin treatment and intervention program to assist in treatment and recovery throughout the country;
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Although this act has some good ideas, the key is to get at the root of the problem. Back in the early part of the 20th century, our government’s plan to control alcohol abuse was prohibition – to just keep the booze out of people’s hands. But prohibition ended, and there was a new strategy: Instead of taking away alcohol from everyone because 10 percent of the population had a problem with it, work on changing people from the inside, bringing God into the equation.

Enter Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps Program.

Tonight, at a community meal for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County, I had a conversation with a friend who had had a problem with substance abuse and went through a 12 steps program. It worked for him, and he has put his substance abuse problem on the ash heap of history, or at least keeps the problem at bay.

“Addictions” are a matter of selfishness, the friend said. Humility needs to learned in order to work well with others and to overcome substance abuse, he added. Abusing drugs and alcohol is a case where one seeks self gratification.

The first step to getting clean is to admit that we are powerless over the sin of addiction that has taken hold of us and that only through a higher power, God, can we overcome.

No matter what the problem – alcohol, drugs, anxiety, depression, anger… – there is a root cause common to all.

Drug Overdose Deaths In PA Increase 14-Fold In Last 35 Years, reads the headlines in an article dated March 16, 2016 in LevittownNow.com.   All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men Still hasn’t put Susie and Johnny Druggie back together again. All the workshops, all the educational drug turn in programs, all the law enforcement…

The inordinate number of recovery houses in lower bucks County is not resolving the drug problem, Instead, it’s creating problems. More crime in the community, overcrowding at the shelter and, as the druggies leave or are thrown out of the houses, they join the ranks of the homeless, in many cases causing more public disdain for other homeless people who became homeless for a different reason.

By 1949, we made great progress on alcohol abuse and had put the evils the progressivism of President Herbert Hoover (and the congress) and President FDR’s New Raw Deal behind us and moved on to a less dysfunctional, more better (to use a Cajun phrase) society. People changed from the inside by attending Bible believing churches, reading the Bible for themselves as well as Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis and taking responsibility for their actions.

By 1969, we regressed, becoming once again a dysfunctional society, where people wallowed in narcissism, selfishness and exhibited other negative character traits. Author Tom Wolfe coined the phrase “Me Decade” to describe the 70’s.

We lost our moral compass at Woodstock, where rich spoiled brats became Noble Savages. The dysfunctionality soon became mainstream. We recently had a reenactment of this at Rio De Janeiro, where members of the swim team vandalized a gas station and lied about being robbed at gunpoint.

But we can get our moral compass back. Today’s drug epidemic is not the cause of our problems but just a symptom.

I’ve noticed churches in Bucks County stepping up to the plate and holding substance abuse programs. And Bible believing churches are spreading the Word. Christian posts and links and commentary are inundating Facebook.

To quote Eric Burdon and the Animals, “We’ve got to get out of this place. If it’s the last thing we ever do. We’ve got to get out of this place” to build a better life for me and you.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  -2nd Chronicles 7:14

At Ease It’s Not a Disease!

Common parlance talks about drug and alcohol abuse as a disease, and labels these problems as “addictions” and “alcoholism”. This relatively modern lingo has entered our vocabulary in the 1930s, with the infestation of psychobabble.

Drug addiction has become an epidemic in our country, especially in Bucks County, PA. Drug counseling advocates have been calling for increasing places for treating this problem. The problem with calling it a disease is that it absolves the doper of  responsibility for his behavior. It’s to say it’s not his fault.

“Alcoholism” and “addictions” are simply sin. Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” — I Corinthians 15:34.  “The primary problem is moral and spiritual, not medical, and cannot be addressed without that perspective,” wrote Franklin E. Payne, Jr., M.D. ,Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, Georgia.

The first step in the local 12 Steps Journey I participate in calls for people with drug, alcohol and other problems to own up to them:

“Step One- We admitted we were powerless over the effects of our separation from GOD-that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Rom. 7:18)”

When we realize we have to admit our character flaws and seek God’s help, we are on the path to recovery.

Modern psychology doesn’t understand the real cause of behavioral problems and doesn’t know the right way to treat them. Dr. Payne explains “I have yet to see any patient’s chart with the diagnosis of ‘depression’ with reference to criteria that would fit any formal definition, such as the DSM-III-R. Yet, millions of patients carry this label and receive potent medications based upon this slipshod approach. Both the label and the medications have great potential for harm, as well as good. Further, such imprecision applies to virtually every area of medicine, not just psychiatric diagnoses. (A discussion of this ‘mal-practice,’ however, would require another paper in itself.)” 

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, can’t put broken people back together again.

God can.

Defining drunkenness, drug abuse and other problems as a disease holds back recovery. If you have a true disease, such a sinusitis, you can take antibiotics. You can’t cure negative behaviors with dope.

The lyrics “Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today” in the 60’s song In the Year 2525 is not where it’s at, man!

Nor is Penndel Mental Health Center, which I’ve surmised apes the culture indicted in the song. Don’t go there or else you’ll wind up with PMS (Penndel Mentalhealth Syndrome).

Jesus is the great healer. There is hope when you confess your sins and seek His counsel.