Why So Many Homeless?

A great line from the cartoon Yogi Bear comes to mind. “DON’T FEED THE BEARS!” You feed them, they won’t forage for themselves.

I don’t like to get political, mostly because I’m a horrible debater.  I can’t come up with quick, witty, “smart” comebacks, so I avoid confrontation like a plague. So what comes next is not intended to spark ire or dissent from any of my followers. I am one of those that is registered non partisan.  I WANT to vote for the person not their party.  That’s not always easy, because parties have “leanings”.

What got me going on the homelessness issue is that we have a lot of them in our area and it has become a major problem.  So much so that a FB Web page was created to vent and possibly find solutions to the problem.  Mostly to point out problem areas and…. vent.  Then, a friend of mine asked me to help her film a video featuring the homeless issues in our area.  Our goal is to find out who these people are and what is being done to alleviate their problem.  I skimmed on some of these points in my blog, Senseless deaths.  And, here’s the teaser… “in interviewing some of these folks, I made an interesting discovery …” but,   I’d be giving away too much if I say more. I won’t spill the beans.

In all this, my curiosity was peaked. I wanted to know more.  So, I began my research.  What follows is based on that and my own conclusions.

My research took me to website after website with statistics.  (I’m only sharing the one) What was interesting to me is that the majority of states with the highest number of homelessness are also states, with the exception of one, who vote primarily Democrat and are majorly “liberal”.  Yup!  It’s true.

Keep in mind, they did not break it down as such. It was just something that caught my attention.  Is it political?

Since liberals tend to dominate these states and are big into their causes, they are also states that offer the most services. In other words “HANDOUTS”.

This is how I feel about handouts.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Proverbs 13:4 : “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

The Bible is not the only place this is found.

Qur’an 13:11 Allah spoke that Allah would not change the destiny of a tribe(anyone) if they do not try hard to change it themselves. (This was the best I could find)

____

Do these folks, passionate about their causes, know exactly what they are doing? Possibly.  Maybe not. I’m sure the government does. Notice, I said “government”, not any one political entity.

PONDER THIS:  If they (the powers that be) keep the people poor and dependent then they become more pliable to whatever future purpose and they remain controllable. Nothing new here. It has been that way since time immemorial. Isn’t that how it is in third world countries? Yet… Why is it some of the people from those countries are breaking free of that cycle?  We, in this country used to have a very comfortable middle class, but that is disappearing. Why?

So how does this work?

Liberals are by and large educated people who can eloquently dictate to the poor people how to think. They make a lot of noise to push their way of thinking out in the forefront and they are very good at it.  One message constantly being force fed to the public is that Rich American’s are getting “rich” on the backs of the poor. Rich Americans are why they are where they are.  So they create this divide and festering angst against the rich or really anyone who is the power figure. What few people realize or take into account is that many of these same folks are also very rich.  Those in the entertainment field are the best examples.  They make their money dissing “corporate America” and playing up “the little guy” who has to go head to head with the “big guy”.  They create dramas all around the poor and the oppressed and victories over the “bosses, the power hungry billionaire tycoon of big corporations, who are evil and nasty.”  Some are, but I’ve met many an evil, oppressive “little guy/gal” in the work place as well.

Please know this,  I am not wealthy.  I did not retire on a fat pension.  I am 70 plus and guess what I still work. Heck, I drive for Uber and Lyft, (and I write) but that’s another story.

What people don’t realize is that, all this help and those wonderful programs is the equivalent of nothing more than “horse hobbling“.  The end goal is to keep people subservient. Horse hobbling limits their forward locomotion. Yes, let’s feed the children and do everything else for them,  kill their drive, so they never rise above doing what’s best for themselves. Yes, it is our Christian duty to help those needing help.  I’m sure other faiths have an equal thought on this as well.  This country, no this world was founded on survivors. You do or you die.

I’m not saying we don’t want to help people.  Heavens no.  The Bible has countless verses that tell us to feed our widows and orphans.

James 2:14-17 states:  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Psalms 82:3 : Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Despite the tendency to believe Islam violent, the Qur’an and especially the hadith highlight how helping another human being is a fundamental aspect of Islam.

So do we help?  YES!  Absolutely. But we must consider to what end or to what extent.

Notice the Bible constantly refers to the “widows and orphans” and in some places the “elderly” .  We have a responsibility to help those who cannot, not will not help themselves.

So, my point is to get people to rise above their situations.  Life can get us all down.  I’ve been down enough to want to find a remote place and disappear to.  When I watch the news sometimes, I get so discouraged at how people treat each other, the crazy things they do to one another, that I’ll shout out “Stop the world, I want to get off!”.

Without disclosing what some of my interviewees have said, but based on that, giving up is not the answer.  

BUT,  for all I said about the liberals, the one thing we can all agree on, is that we have to  find ways of showing them love and getting them the help they need without enlarging the problem and that is the hard part.

Do’s and Don’ts –

Do’s

BE Kind

If you have time, talk to them, if only to say hello.  They are not invisible.  This lady on the right was fascinating.

No two people’s story is the same.V. Maria

If you know where the nearest outreach program is or if your church has one, let them know where that is. Carrying a list or card with that information on it to hand out, gives you something to share. Doing this lets them know you care.

Don’ts

Warning:  Be smart. Don’t go into places to find them, some are hardened criminals, ex-cons or drug dealers and could be dangerous.

Don’t give them unopened bags of food for their dog – it could be a sympathy ploy. They’ll return it to the store for cash for drugs.  Seen it happen.

Don’t give money-  I know it’s hard to resist sometimes, but one guy told my husband how much he made panhandling and it was more than hubby makes in a day doing legitimate work. Don’t think that wasn’t discouraging.

Money goes to booze and drugs.  If they need medication or health care, there are state programs that give that to them for free,  if they will go and get it. I know, I know nothing is truly free, but at the taxpayers expense free.

If they truly want help, they know where all these services are anyway. Food

Many of these folks already collect food stamps and social security or financial assistance of some sort.  Many have phones, courtesy of family and friends that want them to stay connected but have given up on rehabilitating them.  Some even have computers they can use at pretty much any coffee shop, library or restaurant.

There are college students and young people who are homeless.  Yes, that’s true. I don’t have documentation or interviews on them… yet.  When I do, it will be posted.

For some it’s a temporary situation.

All in all, if nothing else, I hope I’ve given you some pondering fodder.

P.S. This is some of the garbage the homeless have left behind my home, which was one of the things, the above lady talks about in our interview.  The main thing, is be kind.

Trash

Matthew chapter 25, 34-46

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply,
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Bra

woolworthsSeveral years ago, my sweet sister came up to Alabama to help me care for my mother who had Alzheimer’s.  It was a difficult time for me and there were times, I thought I would surely die before she did.

You see, mother not only had Alzheimer’s but she was a bi-polar schizophrenic with Alzheimer’s!

When my step father died, I had asked her doctor for some meds to keep her manageable, which he was kind enough to provide me.  The problem however was getting her to take them.  Getting her to take them resulted in me getting a black eye, which had my brother not seen it coming and blocked it would have resulted in a far worse shiner than it was.  It was still bad.  Mother had not handled the death of her husband well and I had noticed a marked difference in her behavior afterward. Understandably of course.

There were many times early on in their relationship that I had wondered if those two even loved each other. I had always thought he married her to give his four children a mother.  He was in the Navy and gone all the time and his kids had been taken away from their mother due to abuse and neglect and were now in foster homes in Boston.

Little did he know mother’s mental state, as she was absolutely charming when she wanted to be. So, here these poor kids go from one abusive parent to another and he’s away at sea.

Mother on the other hand, was needing to get away from her abusive, inattentive, unambitious husband (my father).  Mother had grown up poor and she aspired to be rich in America and that was the last thing my father would ever strive for. Even so, she’d learned some bad habits from him when it came to discipline which we paid for dearly.

Many years later, we’d all managed to survive and they, my step father and her, had managed to stay together.  Granted early on he’d been away most of the time.  When he retired from the Navy, he went to college for a short time, but with her ragging on him all the time, he finally took on as a trucker, where he’d be gone for long periods.  She had many solitary days in the middle of nowhere on a couple of acres in California.  Eventually, they’d move to Tennessee.  While he was away she’d go on about how much she missed him and how hard he worked.  Five minutes after his return, she’d be yelling at him!  I would get so aggravated that his only response was always, “yes Vicky”.  He never fought her, argued with her or anything. Now, I look back and realize that he knew and accepted her state of mind. She did make sure the kids were well fed, well cared for and though her discipline was harsh and often unreasonable, she did make sure their physical needs were met.  I guess he figured it was the best he could give them and that she did the best she could. He was never mean or ugly to her no matter what she dished out.  Never.  For that I loved him.  As I’ve mentioned before, she was harder on us girls than the boys, so my step brother and brothers grew to love her in ways we girls could never.   And, so it went.

I was walking with my step dad one day and noticed an almost imperceptible wince.  I asked him if he was alright and he said, “yeah”.  I told him I didn’t believe him and had he gone to the doctors yet?  He said he had an appointment the following week and I insisted I wanted to know as soon as he knew anything.  Two weeks and four days later, he’d laid down on the floor to watch TV with mother on the couch beside him.  The two of them had fallen asleep as was their routine.  When she went to arouse him, he was gone.   He’d been diagnosed with liver cancer the Friday before. He died on a Tuesday. She’d fortunately had the wherewithal to call the police, but they took their time to get there.  Given her state of mind, she was notorious for calling them all the time. I would later find regular bills (amounting to thousands of dollars) from the police department for excessive false alarm calls.  Did you know they did that?  I didn’t.

So now he’s dead and there’s no will to be found.  Single handedly, I spent days going through tons of paper trying to find a will.  There was one record book with my name in it, but it was nearly forty years old and it wasn’t formal. I would later find 4-5 half started wills and that was it. Mother in her state of mind would hide things. I found so many multiples of documents and items around the house.  She would hide them so well that if they couldn’t find them, they’d buy another. Oh, and QVC was her best friend.  As she wouldn’t leave the house, she shopped online!  But I digress.

So here I am, mulling through everything, going to court to get custody of her and her estate and afterward tracking down insurance policies and VA benefits and doing this all alone. I would talk to my sister on the phone and after two years of this, she made up her mind to leave her job and come up to help me.   She had asked me a number of times if I needed her to do so but I vacillated saying yes.  My other siblings, including my steps couldn’t.  She was single and in a better position to come up but she’d be giving up her hard earned clientele and I couldn’t promise her anything that would match what she was making there. After some time, exhausted, I relented and said, yes.  A few months after, I would have a mini stroke and end up in the hospital.  By then, we were pretty settled in tag teaming mother’s care, but for the next ten days, she was on her own.  I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Later she would tell me why she’d been so willing to be there for me.  It wasn’t just because I was her sister or because mother needed our help.  The tyranny of mother’s mental illness and the hardships we’d endured with her resulted in there being no love lost there,  not for either of us but for some reason more so for her.  She told me she could stand to lose mother, but she didn’t want to lose me because of her.  It would be later that she and I would heal from that.  Now, years later we are able to mourn the mother we never had and the mother she may have wanted to be or could have been.

What took me down this road and reminded me of all this is a story Linda Bethea has been sharing on her blog: Nutsrock .  (There’s still time to catch up on it, so you may want to check out my link to her story. BTW if you want to go to the very beginning, it starts in April and is a worthwhile read of “Charley’s Tale“)

It was her latest installment that triggered the memory of my sister and the Red Bra. I’d not remembered the incident until my sister shared it with me.  She calls it her “story of the Red Bra.” She said, it was in part, the reason she came to help me. It was because she would never forget how I stole a red bra for her.   Incredulously I say, “I stole a red bra for you?! I don’t remember that.” As she tells her tale, I begin to remember what and how it all happened.

THE STORY OF THE RED BRA

My sister was the youngest of my siblings at the time.  (This was prior to the reincorporation of the families)

It happens that she was just starting to mature and her little breasts were just budding.  The boys in school were absolutely merciless and would pass by and pinch the girls, thinking it was funny.  I don’t know why no one tells them that this can be extremely painful to us during this growth state. Dad was still around and he was just as bad, if not worse, thinking it was funny.  We girls would walk around the house with our arms crossed when we passed him. It was not a good time.

Mother in general was unapproachable so you can imagine how difficult it was for my sweet, shy little sister to even broach the subject, but she did.  Mother did not disappoint and proceeded to laugh and rail on her about how ridiculous her request was, saying.   “you’re too young”, “too small” and too everything.  The answer was an adamant “No!”

It was humiliating, but she sucked it up, retreated to our room and didn’t ask again.

In those days it wasn’t unusual for us kids to walk into town and on some occasions we’d take the bus.  We’d hang out at the rec center and park or the plunge which was all within a few blocks of each other.  It was a different time then.

woolworths

As a kid, I was quite the thief.  If I wanted something, I’d take it.  (Not one of my proudest moments, but I was a natural) Although we weren’t poor, we kids weren’t allowed to get and or have the many things my peers were allowed to.  As it was, I was an outcast and I was so desirous of being accepted and being “one of them”, that I guess I reasoned this was how I could do that. If I could just have what they had perhaps they’d like me.  I really don’t know how my mind worked then.  I was just a kid.

As I recall, it was shortly after her denied request, that I took my little sis into our local Five & Dime, i.e. Woolworth’s or Kresge’s, I don’t recall which. We had both.

In those days merchandise was all laid out neatly in bins. If you picked up an item, you folded it back up and replaced it to the best of your ability as neatly as you found it.  It was common courtesy in those days.  The only counters that didn’t seem to make it were those with cosmetics.  For some reason, I’m guessing girls especially,  would open up a tube of lipstick and forget to roll it back down before putting the cap back on it, resulting in quite a mess. For some reason, I don’t recall ever kyping makeup.

bra section of 5 X dime

None the less, we went to the bins where all the bra’s were and started digging in, selecting a few before proceeding to the dressing rooms for her to try them on. These bins were the least neat given the nature of a bra’s composition.

I remember her trying on several ones and yes, at the time, many were too big for her, but that wasn’t the point.  She needed body armor and that was all there was to it.

Why, we settled on the red one I don’t know, but there was obviously no accounting for taste in our selection, so we did.  When things would get tough for her; when she thought there was no one else who would rally for her, she’d remember the Red Bra.  She said the memory of the Red Bra would always be a reminder that she could always count on her big sister.  Over the years, jealousy on both our parts would cause our relationship to wane and at times waver, but our love never did.

My stealing of one Red Bra so many years ago, now serves as a reminder for us both and how we could count on each other.  She was there for me when I needed her, as I was for her so many years ago.  It is the memory of the Red Bra that moved her to come to my aid and the story of her memory that makes me grateful for the bond that grew from the experience.

We now live on opposite ends of the States but we talk all the time and I miss her horribly as she does me. For a little while we got to be girls again and I miss that.

 

 

 

More Detours but Now I’m Back on Track

After the divorce I went on a two week cruise with a girlfriend of mine. I went wild, you saw the movie “Wild?” well, not that bad.

I attribute a good part of that to an incident just prior to me leaving for that trip. My airline pilot husband came to visit the day before I left and tried to rape me, again. He kept saying, “you want it don’t you?” and “I’m gonna miss that ass”,  this time I did what my attorney suggested and laid there like a limp rag and didn’t fight him.  I was shocked, it worked. When I didn’t fight, he let go of me and left me alone, but it was still demoralizing. So I went through a brief self destruct period that lasted about six months.

While on the cruise, I was the party girl and at times would bring everyone in. The staff on the ship asked if I’d be interested in a job as cruise director. I guess the felt someone who could rally everyone to have a good time would be an asset.  I turned it down. What I should have done is take it, but I didn’t. They’d offered all expenses paid for me and my girls and special schooling for my girls in addition to teaching them several languages. But, I wasn’t sure I could trust the moral integrity of the crew or the pressure of performance by the staff, so I passed.

Instead, I went home got a job at the gym teaching nutrition and makeup for Jack La Lanne’s.

There, I met and got involved very briefly with the most gorgeous hunky guy I’d ever dated. We parted friends and that was nice.  We decided we were heading in two different directions and we wanted to see each other happy in that choice.  My girls were disappointed because even as young as they were, he was not only pretty but congenial as well. They liked him a lot. I think of him often, but not lustfully, just wondering if he ever got where he was going.

I thought it was interesting at how easy it was or that it was possible for two people to part so amicably, without that achy feeling you get like you’d lost something.

Maybe it wasn’t really a self destruct period so much as more of a growing “you’re okay” period.

After him I dated someone I’d dated before and became engaged but that didn’t fare well. One day as I was cleaning up after dinner, I overheard him threaten my eldest child. I don’t know what preceded that, all I heard were his words when he said “you just wait until your mother and I get married!”  I immediately went straight to the living room and told him, I’m sorry but we aren’t getting married and if he couldn’t say or do whatever it was he intended now then I wasn’t waiting to find out what he’d do later. He left. I never saw him again and since learned he died a few years back.

A few months later I met another young man ten years my junior. After a whirlwind courtship, we married.  Suffice it to say, although we have two wonderful boys from that relationship, after being married to him, I didn’t pick up a Bible for about 10 years. Neither did I step into a church. It was the most suffocating period of my life. That was the paranoid camper.

During that time, I did start back to college but again never finished. At least I got to do that and I could tell that as an adult I would have been an excellent student.  It was during that marriage we moved to Colorado where we eventually separated. Unfortunately after the divorce, I had to get a job and go back to work so no more schooling.

After much therapy, my life started to get on track again.

While married to #2, I met yet another young man (even younger than the second and an employee of ours, so actually I’d “known” him for some time) and his atheism/agnosticism changed my life in two ways.

First of all he forced me not to “need” anyone or anything.  He taught me to lean on and trust my own abilities. Believe it or not that applies to faith.

Second, his agnosticism challenged my faith and I discovered that I still loved God and that my faith was still alive.  In time, he accepted Jesus and became a believer.

Shortly after we married, I was approached with an opportunity to get into the film industry.  I did a few extra parts in film, took classes and kept my feet in the water by starting my own talent agency. It paid quite well, but unfortunately jobs were few and far between in our small town.

I bounced around from job to job during this time. I had moved up to sales exec for the company I was with which sent me traveling quite a bit and some of that was to Aspen, Telluride, Vail and smaller towns in between. I did radio and later as a Realtor, I would visit those areas again, so I was in among “the stars” constantly.

Then came 9-11 and my priorities changed. Hence came my volunteer period.

I felt so compelled to do something to help in whatever way possible that I joined forces with Red Cross and assisted many disaster clients. That was rewarding for a time but after Katrina that ended.  So detour after detour and then more.

When my parents got ill, everything else took a backseat to their needs. Fortunately, my husband was right there for me and supported me in whatever it was I needed to do for them.

We packed up and moved to Alabama where we became farmers. Later I would join the staff of the State health department as medical interpreter.

My sister D later joined us and she too became my biggest advocate. WE became each others cheerleaders and mentors.

When my father was dying he kept talking about all the opportunities he had passed up or failed to take advantage of. It was regret after regret. I told Diana to listen to him. “That sounds like us”, riddled with excuses. I thought about my writing.

Years before Diana and I had talked about writing a screenplay about our parents and their dysfunctional relationship, but it never happened. (I still have the notes so someday … maybe.) Instead, I wrote about the red bra I had stolen from the five and dime and how it impacted our lives.  It was called “The Red Bra Party”. It was my very first completed screenplay.  It was abominable, but I got it done in time for two contests, so I submitted it. I was exuberant because as shabby as it was… I DID IT!

I told Daddy before he died that he could take credit for that. I got a lot off my chest with him before he died, some of which I regret because although it needed saying I probably shouldn’t have done so as he’s dying, not that he would have been so considerate. What can I say? I am my father’s child.  I did let him know I appreciated his colorful personality and how I forgave him because in reality his abuses made me stronger and they didn’t break me.  They could have, but they didn’t. Some of that could be his genes and some of mom’s.

Whatever lives they had, whatever hardships they endured made them harsh, it didn’t me.  Whatever it is that’s in me made me more determined. I’m fueled for bigger and better things and I know it!!

The screenplay I wrote after that one so impressed my actor daughter that she gave me a free trip to the Sundance Film Festival.  I got good remarks on one screenplay sent to Austin Film Festival and I’m working on improving that among several others. Now I’m blogging and meeting countless of writers online.

I’m in California now and networking and meeting more amazing people and writing again, full time, so it’s all good. The interesting thing too is, everyone is willing to share what they know.  Not what you’d expect huh?

All these detours and now I’m back on track.