Dealing With Difficult People

At tonight’s community meal for the homeless and needy in Bucks County, PA, Birdman was his usual savage self. He sat at the end of my table, repeatedly grabbing, often using the salt and pepper shakers, keeping it close to him.  I moved them towards the two people who were sitting across from me and kept an eye on them. Evidently, he had designs to make the shakers part of his plunder.  Image result for popinjay

As the hosts were cleaning up, I took the shakers to the kitchen, handed it to someone and explained that there’s a guy sitting at our table who likes to take things home with him and I wanted to make sure they got it back.

For the grand finale, Birdman went to our table with a host and the coffee pot. I had a half cup of coffee, which had gotten cold. I asked the host if I could top off my coffee. “Go ahead, help yourself”, Birdman snapped, adding “take all of it. Take it home with you!”

My name isn’t Birdman”, I quipped. He grumbled something inaudibly, in a hostile tone.  

My now filled cup of coffee was just the right temperature and it went well with my desert.

The coffee left in the pot barely fit in the container the bird brought with him.

Earlier this week, at the community meal at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Penndel, PA, the host announced rules for dining at the church, including not coming to the meal drunk and fighting/quarreling. About a year and a half ago, a guest came to the meal drunk and disorderly, verbally assaulted and physically threatened another guest (one of his swings clipped the guest) who was minding his own business, as well as also cursed out anyone who confronted him about his behavior. He threatened me just because he didn’t like the way I was looking at him (I was aghast at his behavior). It took three male hosts to pull him away from the victim.

The out-of-control guest was ushered to the opposite corner of the large dining hall. After a pow-wow with the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) members and hosts, the police were called. An AHTN member returned to the scene of the crime and demanded that the victim leave immediately. Soon the police came, who also told the victim he had to leave, as per the host’s request. The victim was banned from riding the AHTN bus and the meal, while the drunk and disorderly guest continued to ride the bus and attend the meal.

Because of this outrage, where the victim believed slander and other wrongs were committed, he filed a lawsuit against the church and members of AHTN. I believe that this event and the lawsuit is what prompted Redeemer to announce the rules. I also think that because some people did something to hold difficult people accountable for their behavior and continue to do so, the meals have been more peaceful, more enjoyable.

Tonight, and other nights, people have been able to at least put a speed bump in front of Birdman. Like Sally, he needs to slow his mustang down. Oh yea…

Society need rules, law and order. Without which, it ends up like the Lord of The Flies.

Most of the guests at the community meal show restraint and respect others. It is a blessed time, where friends get together and talk about various things, admonish and encourage one another. At one meal, another guest admonished me to be gracious to Birdman. I’m trying. It takes wisdom to not cross that line to curb bad behavior which effects others and completely putting someone down. As the Bible says, be angry but do not sin.

It would be sad if a miscreant or two (or more) would ruin the community meals in Bucks County.

“As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”

-Ecclesiastes 10:1

Tell Me Why

Falsely accusing someone for gain is nothing new. With Easter approaching, we are reminded how the perfect lamb, Jesus, sacrificed Himself to save us from our sin and bring new life for those who believe.

Jesus was a threat to Caiaphas and his gang, whom the Romans tolerated. At a meeting of the Sanhedrin, the chief priests and the Pharisees decided it was in their best interests to lie about Jesus and turn Him over to the Romans to be crucified. They wanted to conduct business as usual – the money changers and other shady activities.

Likewise, today in Bucks County, PA, the Advocates for The Homeless and Those In Need (AHTN) have a racket they are protecting.  About a year and a half ago, secretly, I believe a member of AHTN lied about an innocent guest at a community meal in order, in her thinking, not to have a mob get mad at them by holding accountable a homeless guy who came to the meal drunk and verbally harass, curse at and physically threaten another guest.

The drunk and disorderly homeless man started harassing the victim after overhearing the guy talking about  court cases he sat in on.  He had a problem with this and went ballistic, cursing at and even swinging at him, just clipping him.  Three of the hosts had to drag the drunken man away. He was ushered to the far corner of the dining hall, with AHTN members accompanying him.

The victim showed great self control, not even verbally arguing with this maniac.  Yet,  when the police approached the victim, the officer told him he had to leave because the host wanted this. The victim was banned from the bus, and, what’s more, the next time he came to the meal, he was told he was banned, because, when pressed for an answer, the host reluctantly said it was because he was saying bad things about the homeless.

The assailant was not only allowed to ride the bus but came back to that particular meal.

It is strange, even Kafkaesque, that the victim, who never had  any issues with this host, suddenly was not allowed to come to the community meal. I wish I were a fly on the wall when AHTN representatives sequestered the assailant. I think what must have been said is why he was not brought to the civil hearing.

For AHTN, it was a matter of expediency masquerading as keeping the peace.

Recently, a year and a half  later, someone related to a leader at AHTN confronted the victim for filing the lawsuit against AHTN, pointing this out to one of the hosts at a meal, wondering why the victim did such a thing. The victim explained that he didn’t file the suit against AHTN, but against individuals from AHTN.

AHTN Mouthpiece: Tell me why eye eye eye you filed.

Plaintiff: And why you lie eye eyed about me.*0wnNO4NdS6s3%21sEyfRTh7HS*TeG1iAMOmifK0r0M1c*ptwefTo6FjgZqvg 

AHTN is not the friend of the homeless. At the Kangaroo district court hearing, AHTN was let off the hook – for the time being (dismissed without prejudice, which means, for those of you in Doylestown, it can be appealed and it is), while the homeless person was given a default judgment. He was not even brought in from the Bucks County jail. As the old Beatles’ song goes “But you left me sitting on my own,
Did you have to treat me oh so bad,
All I do is hang my head and moan.”

By not enforcing rules, and acting like when an individual homeless person does something wrong you are confronting the whole group, it hurts the homeless community. The message that the homeless are supposed to act badly casts a negative image on them. This plays into the mentality of the Bucks County establishment, where, for example, at the Levittown public library and the nearby Veterans’ Memorial the homeless are not welcome.

In this case, AHTN had mollycoddled the assailant who had been harassing the real victim and others for some time. One formerly homeless woman pointed out that if this behavior kept up, the assailant, in a drunken rage, may someday even kill someone! It wasn’t AHTN who is preventing this from happening, but people who stepped up to the plate. All these modern day Pharisees care about is their funding. To them, the homeless are just cattle, from whom they don’t expect any moral code.

Like AHTN, when I called out two non homeless guests for hogging food at the community meals, members of the suburban ganstas circled the wagons and defended the offenders.

When you don’t maintain laws of civility in society, you end up with a society like The Lord of The Flies.







Of Perfume and Flies

“As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”

-Ecclesiastes 10:1

When someone in the homeless community acts foolishly, it taints the rest of the group. It’s very disruptive when a fool comes to a community meal for the homeless and needy drunk and disorderly, or goes around trying to snatch everything up for him or herself, with no concern about other needy people in the group.

It’s incumbent on the civil, wise guests at the meal to shoo the fly, so it doesn’t bother you or me, so I can eat in peace you see. (My apologies to T Brigham Bishop, who is credited with writing the song Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me).,_Don%27t_Bother_Me

I have a problem with the “don’t snitch” mentality, where when you witness something wrong that affects everyone, you’re not supposed to take any action or even say something. This fosters a Lord of The Flies culture.

The right thing, however, was done about the fly that recently caused a stink at a community meal in Bucks County, PA. He was banned from taking the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) bus for two weeks. I would have not let him off so easily, but at least something was done. One community meals host has a zero tolerance for drunks. If you come to the meal drunk, you may not come back again, ever!

On another occasion, AHTN and the hosts at a community meal did the right thing. Queen Nora, a guest, was attempting her trick where she purposely misses the AHTN bus so that she can bum a ride from someone who drove to the meal. The host asked me and others as we were walking out the door to tell the bus driver that someone is in the ladie’s room and to wait for her. As I approached the bus, an AHTN aid approached and said she was coming for the stray. When I opened the door to the building, her highness approached, and I announced “here comes the queen.”

The aid approached her, and with a hint of sarcasm remarked something to the effect that she was glad the queen could make it and that she found her. The queen stuck her nose up in the air (figuratively) and let the aid know that she wasn’t ready until then and that the bus had to wait for her.

It stinks when the sweet fellowship of friends who get together at the community meals is disrupted.  

The community meals is an institution that many homeless and needy treasure. It’s a place where friends get together to edify one another, talk about their faith and other things, just about anything except of sealing wax, cabbages and kings or why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

At the early afternoon meal on Saturday, someone played a Marvin Gaye song and we talked about the music.

At many of the meals, the hosts interact with the guests and build relationships with them. They accept them unconditionally and are available to address their concerns. This is something that is really needed today, especially in Bucks County.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'” …

-Luke 10: 25-37

Run For The Shadows

“We came out of the doorways of Portland’s streets, out from under the bridges, from under the bushes of public parks, we came openly with nothing and no longer a need to hide as Portland’s inhumane and Draconian camping ban had just been overturned on two constitutional grounds. We came armed with a vision of a better future for ourselves and for all of Portland, a vision of a green, sustainable urban village where we can live in peace and improve not only the condition of our own lives but the quality of life in Portland in general. We came in from the cold of a December day and we refuse to go back to the way things were.”

–Statement on the Dignity Village website

This is the story of Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon — how advocates and the homeless people got together and created a safe, healthy community where people without walls can find a place to live.

It all started when the homeless, aided by activists, tired of living in the shadows (not exactly David Bowie’s Golden Years), protested against the public camping ban. As is the case in Bucks County, PA, homeless people were chased from camps and had to move from place to place.  Whenever they were kicked out, they packed up their stuff in their shopping carts and pushed the carts in a parade to the next location. High profile standoffs with officials ensued.

Advocates got involved legally and used the media to champion the homeless cause in Portland to help the homeless.

Dignity Camp registered as a non profit in December, 2001. After being removed from a site under a bridge, Dignity camp spread up into three groups and moved to three different locations, two of them outside the city. The camp within the city limits was swept. One of the camps that moved outside the city survived. Initially the residents thought it was too far from various services, but they worked things out and after surviving temporary status for three years, it was sanctioned as an official tiny house village in 2004 by the Portland City Council.

Dignity Village became legit after the city council designated a portion of Sunderland Yard as a designated campground.

Amenities at Dignity Village include:

  • Showers
  • Sanitary facilities
  • Private and communal food and flower gardens
  • Communal cooking and refrigeration facilities
  • Emergency transportation
  • Access to education
  • Access to counseling
  • Access to television (limited)
  • Distribution of donated food, personal items and construction material
  • Internet access
  • Weekly community meetings
  • On-site veterinary and medical care on a scheduled basis by volunteer doctors and nurses
  • Access to prescription medication assistance
  • Rudimentary first aid
  • Access to telephone

To prevent Dignity Village from becoming a Lord of the flies like the alleged emergency shelter in Levittown, PA, the village requires residents to sign a membership agreement with rules of behavior:

  1. No violence toward yourself or others.No illegal substances or alcohol or paraphernalia on the premises or within a one-block radius.
  2. No stealing.
  3. Everyone contributes to the upkeep and welfare of the village and works to become a productive member of the community.
  4. No disruptive behavior of any kind that disturbs the general peace and welfare of the village.

The homeless in Bucks County, PA are still living in the shadows, and continually have to run from them. When the homeless in lower Bucks County were in a jam, unlike the advocates in Portland who got the public camping ban lifted on legal grounds, the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) whined that they cannot get involved in legal issues.

We need more people who will buck the system in Bucks County and persuade the public and advocate for the homeless in any way they can, including legally so the homeless in lower Bucks County don’t have to run from the shadows and give them more golden years.

Gold whop whop whop…


Crossing Over to The Dark Side

Someone remarked that when I wear my dark poncho, I look like Darth Vader. This got my imagination going, thinking that I, who have been trying to help the homeless, cross over to the dark side when I go into a phone booth to change into Darth Vader and march through homeless camps, leading a mechanical wrecking crew that resembles dinosaurs that stomp out villages, as was the case in one of the Star Wars movies.

Fiction, wrote one English professor, is “an emotional truth.” Word on the street is that the Bucks County Commissioners, in Doylestown, PA, decreed that the homeless have to evacuate the woods surrounding the Levittown Public Library, or else, in Darth Vader style, they will bulldoze the area.

Where will these people without walls go? To the Bucks County Commissioners, and the judgmental people with whom the commissioners legislate under the influence, the homeless are just cattle.

What are the people who are supposed to be in the corner of the homeless doing? When I got the news of the pending evictions when I visited the Levittown Library yesterday, there was a representative from the Advocates for Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN). As usual, she focused on her pet homeless person, skirting a critical problem. As is sometimes the case, AHTN goes into a phone booth and changes character.

Their force is not with us.

But wait! I have a clue! I learned that the Penndel Mental Health Center outreach people influenced the commissioners.

Since the early meet and greet expeditions to homeless camps, Penndel Mental Health Center has been chasing the homeless ambulance. They summarily diagnose the homeless as having mental problems. This way they can fill their coffers with state funding. They are on a cattle drive.

Shelter, as I mentioned in previous blogs, is the biggest problem people face in Bucks County, PA.

After having lost their regular residence, people have again lost the only place they call home on several occasions. In some cases, the homeless have been betrayed by people who pretend to help them, bringing a Trojan Horse, where in the dark of night, bring on the heat. In other cases, certain members of a homeless encampment bring the authorities in, like a heat seeking missile when they either abuse the privileges a landowner graciously grants them, commit some criminal act , do drugs or just create problems. Sometimes people who notice people camping in unofficial areas report them.

In one case a friend of mine got booted from a homeless camp and ended up in an area where, during the rain, the tent leaked and the ground flooded, leaving her soaking wet. She ended up in the hospital. She already had COPD but then contracted pneumonia.

Her fellow homeless took her under their wing and AHTN and other, concerned, caring people helped her get what she needed to survive.  Since then, the baby boomer was in and out of the hospital, and has been getting chemo therapy with Alliance Cancer Specialists at Aria Torresdale for lung cancer, where she has a top doctor and staff with a good bedside manner.  She spent some time at St. Mary Hospital, where she got excellent care with caring people, then was transferred to Manor Care for physical therapy, where the competent therapists not only provided good therapy, but were very patient with the down spirited woman.  The nursing staff was also very hospitable.

St. Mary and Manor care worked not only with getting my friend good home care, but helped with leads for a place to stay. In her condition being out in the street is not an option.  It was eventually another patient and the pastor of the church she attended that helped get a place for her.

Finding adequate shelter for people is a big problem in Bucks County. They are forced to live, and in some cases are hunted down, like animals. Like the rest of us, they are human beings!

I suspect that the establishment in Bucks County wants to put the homeless away by putting them all in the nuthouse. This not only, as I mentioned, fills the coffers of so-called mental health care professionals, but keeps the homeless off the streets and out of the hair of judgmental people.

Indeed, there are people without walls who have chronic problems, mental as well as physical. I’m not convinced that places such as Penndel Mental Health Center or the recovery houses in the area can help them, even if they want to be helped.

The question remains that, like the rest of the population, homeless people need to want to resolve their addiction and other problems. As a Salvation Army officer once told me, “you can take people by the hand but you can’t drag them.”

And like everyone else, the homeless people need to be held individually accountable for their behavior. One advantage of officially sanctioning homeless areas is that you can distinguish the bad apples from law abiding citizens. I read on the National Coalition for the Homeless website that official homeless camps/villages have rules.

Society has to have rules and borders in order to avoid problems — not to create a Lord of The Flies society.

The homeless are not animals. Like the rest of us, they are created in the image of God. And, like all of us, those with problems in addition to not having a home can be restored.

The government, contrary to a statement made by State Representative Tina Davis at Stand Down 2015, is not resolving the homeless problem.

I suspect one of the reasons people get evicted from homeless camps is that all the land suitable for the homeless to work, as we did during President Lincoln’s time with the Homestead Act of 1862, is that the land is a potential money maker and tax base. As Jesus said, the love of money is the root of evil.

Benevolent people have been helping the homeless. The community meals, people who drop off food for the homeless, people who minister and genuinely care about the homeless as people, and not as a project, are out there. As I’ve repeatedly said, people need shelter! To this end, people with various talents need to work together to provide more shelter for the homeless.

For example, there’s someone at AHTN who is in real estate. She, and the rest of AHTN, however, doesn’t seem serious about doing anything about creating much needed shelter for the homeless. Warming Hearts said it would help in this regard, but just brings a Trojan Horse to the homeless camps.

Not only is the government not doing enough to provide shelter, it has been getting in the way. Pushing the homeless out is its Final Solution

The Empire Strikes Back, baby!


The Lord of The Flies

The Lord of the Flies is a story of the conflicting values in society.

  • A civilized society that lives by rules and with relative peace and harmony.
  • Savagery, where there is a struggle for power and where people just follow their natural, animal instincts.

It’s a conflict between rational and irrational emotional reactions and between morality and immorality.

The environment does not control our thinking.  The boys who were marooned on an island that was a paradise.  It was their unchecked human character flaws that drove them to cruelty and even a murder — feral behavior.

Being homeless does not cause people to become feral, like some cats that live in the woods near the library in Levittown, PA.   It’s unchecked human depravity that does this.  The difference between the feral humans and feral cats is that when humans are not held in check by the restraints of civilization, they act not out of survival but out of ego and meanness.

In the Lord of the Flies, the marooned boys irrationally mistake a downed pilot for a beast.  Jack, the irrational, serve serving, self proclaimed leader of the group, leaves a pig’s head as a sacrifice for the beast.

Simon muses over the pig’s head, swarming with flies, and creates an icon for what’s happening on the island.  He tells the other boys that the beast was their own creation and that the beast is what’s inside them all.

When Simon tried to tell Jack’s tribe that the beast is merely a human corpse, the boys, in a frenzied dance, killed him!

In the homeless community in lower Bucks County, PA, people who are thrown into a challenging situation like the marooned boys have formed competing tribes.

There are people like Ralph in the Lord of the Flies story, who try to look at the situation realistically and do what’s best for the group.  There are also people like Jack, who seek power and attack others who are trying to figure out how best to deal with the situation.  When others listened to him, the society became dysfunctional.

The homeless are marooned, out in their cars, in tents in the woods, and on pavements by buildings.  What’s needed is a Ralph to work with others to figure out how to best deal with the situation, and to give everyone a chance to hold the conch to have their say in the group.

Homelessness is a problem.  It’s will not be resolved by people marginalizing the homeless, writing them off, and treating them like lepers. And escaping through drugs and alcohol or by venting anger and feeling sorry for oneself, known as PMS (poor me syndrome) is equally counterproductive.

By accepting the homeless unconditionally and holding them to the same standards as the rest of the society, and of course by not voting for progressives, they can be rescued.