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)

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Senseless Deaths

I have recently had two deaths in the family.  I am still working through them, but not for the reasons you might think.

Yes, I am sorry they are gone, but I’ve accepted that already. I cried a little but my grief is mixed with anger, so I know I will eventually have to work through that.

One I will miss terribly.  The other, I will always wonder how I could have made a bigger difference in his life.

Death number 1:

The first death was my cousin’s.  My cousin was fantabulous.  I didn’t grow up with him.  I babysat him. He was considerably younger and so I never really was around when he was a teen or growing up.

The visits to our Mexican side of the family had been few and far between, by then I was a mom and responsible parent.  My young cousins seemed wild and we all worried and wondered if they belonged to gangs. One visit in particular, I remembered seeing gunshot holes in a straight line along all the cars across the street from their house.  My aunt and uncle moved from there shortly thereafter wanting to get the kids to a better neighborhood. Given the circumstances of his death, my brother’s response to the news is, how grateful he is, we didn’t grow up in that environment. Mother kept us away.  Mother may not have been quite sane, but she still had a mother’s protective instinct. I thought for a long time she was ashamed of her family, but perhaps not.

Still, they are family and for that reason, I’ve since tried to get to know them better.

For 30 years, I lived out of state and hadn’t seen them in quite a long time even though I stayed in touch by phone and mostly just with my aunt, their mother.  When I returned four years ago, I started visiting them again.  All grown up now, “RA” (not his real name) and I became buddies.  During my time away, he’d had four kids and they’d had kids. He was no longer with either of their mothers and now lived next door to my aunt, his mom.

On m first visit, I drove up in my “dirty” car.  I’d just washed it either a couple of days before or the day before.  He insisted, he’d detail it.  In short order he had all his buddies washing and buffing every inch of it.  Before long it looked brand new!!!  I didn’t realize that washing alone doesn’t cut it. A good waxing and buffing makes a world of difference!  Spit spot.

I offered to give him something for it but he always refused.  When my son got his new, used car, he taught him how to take care of it and when they were done his car now looked spanking new.  That particular time, because he had worked on two of our cars and quite laboriously, I might add, I once again offered him a sizable amount of cash for helping out.  That time he took it.  I think he went to the casino afterwards. I was, of course, disappointed and vowed to not do that again.  Instead, I thought I’d give him something in trade, perhaps.  I’m a first born.

On some afternoons, we would talk and occasionally have a beer together. He was warm and kind. I did get around to asking him if he’d belonged to a gang and he said, No, never.  We would talk about everything and I saw nothing but a good guy.

He was also quite artistic and gifted me a Betty Boop clock that I knew my airline pilot brother would be envious of and he was. Betty Boop

On that first visit, when I was in LA for a screenwriters workshop, I told him of my screenwriting desires.  He had gotten so excited about my screenplays.  It was neat, he looked up to me for all he thought I’d achieved, even though a part of me was so afraid to disappoint. He was interested in what I’d written and even hooked me up with a guy who had once been in law enforcement who might help my research. My story centered on a kidnapping and a woman’s unknown connection to the cartel.  Later he would tell me, “Cuz, don’t do it.”  He was quite serious. I didn’t understand his change of heart, but even though he said it sounded great, he reiterated, “don’t do it”. He said, it was dangerous.  It never made sense to me since lots of writers write about the cartel.  In fact, there are so many cartel stories out there, how would one more make a difference?  I said, it’s fiction after all and my queries were non specific, plus I told him, most everything I had, I got off the internet, the rest was made up. Nevertheless, I let it go because it wasn’t developing the way I wanted it to anyway.  Unfortunately, there was also one about a kidnapping that came out soon after.  Plus that year, so many cartel movies began to surface that I would be hard pressed to sell it anyway, even with revisions.

On my aunts property, she had fruit trees. RA would harvest giant grapefruit and from her tall avocado trees, avocados.  She would sell them to the neighbors or passersby that would stop and ask.  Of course, that was frequent since RA made her a big sign inviting them to buy.   “RA” would also be the one to climb this tall ladder to harvest the fruit so his mom  could sell them for a little cash (like 10 for $1 or so), mostly so they wouldn’t go to waste.  When I was there, I’d hold the ladder for him as he’d tie it and himself in before he’d get to work some 20+ feet up.  Between him and his brother they took good care of his mom and did things for her all the time.

A few weeks ago, he was shot, assassination style.  The news said that, except for his age, 63,  it had all the markings of a gangland “hit”.  But what got me is that it was a story that got snuffed almost immediately. It was weeks before his body would be released to the family.  Am I overstepping my bounds in saying so?  I hope not.

It was around 2 AM.  He was riding his bicycle home, after visiting a “friend”, after said friend called him over.  Was it a set up?  We still have no answers and pictures are sparse for a reason.

At first, I thought perhaps, because I knew he liked to gamble, that maybe he’d gotten in debt with the wrong person.  But that was just a guess.  No one else seemed to have a clue.

I’ve since learned the FBI is investigating.  The FBI?  Hmmmm

The story gets curiouser and curiouser.

Death Number  2 –

Last weekend, we deposited my ex son-in-law’s ashes at sea.  My daughter and granddaughter came out for the services.  She was his first and I believe his only legal wife. His mom, sister and ex football jock friends from high school were there and all his homeless “crew” were there.  The contrast disconcerting.

The homeless sat or stood on one side and the country clubbers on the other.  How did this once good looking guy go astray?

I knew he had an alcohol problem when he married my daughter and I only suspected the drugs.  One time, when I visited them, I had observed him stepping out momentarily with something in his hands and then returning moments later, but I was naive to those matters at the time. Was it a drug deal?

What I didn’t know is that he had once used my daughter, while she was pregnant with our grand daughter as a drug mule. So, his addiction and her love caused them both to make some unwise choices. I never knew.  Drugs and alcohol, for me anyway, have never been a temptation, for which I’m grateful.

We talked them into moving to Colorado to live with us hoping that away from his druggy friends, that he’d kick the habit.  They were there for six or seven months.  We employed him at our bicycle business and kept him busy, but he was miserable.  He didn’t have his drugs, that we knew of, but he still had access to alcohol.

While cleaning one day, I found a stash of alcohol, several bottles of vodka, whiskey or whatever.  I went back to check later and those were gone and several others had taken their place. Where and when was he getting these? One day, I asked him to run to the store for me, so he borrowed my bike and took off.  After more than an hour, I went looking for him on my son’s bike. (the store was nearby) I found him sitting on the bridge, downing cans of beer and tossing the empties into the Colorado River!!!  I took the cans from him and we had a chat.  When the chat was over he hugged me, thanked me and then closed in for a kiss.  I pushed him away and told him, he was drunk and I’m his mother in law, for Pete’s sake!  He was only 21.

I wasn’t angry at him because I recognized only too well that this young man had a serious problem. (My ex had been an alcoholic, but a good natured one such as BAC, (not his name). He was a teddy bear… a gorgeous, handsome, charismatic hunk (at the time).  Women had trouble not forgiving him. Instead of getting angry, they forgive and forgive, which was a disservice to him. Some time later, the kids announced they were moving back to CA. We were not happy.

They got their tax return and he was going to go on ahead, get a place and send for the girls.  We never saw him again.  My daughter, after waiting awhile, learned he had moved in with her former roommate.  She filed a divorce in absentia.  I’m not sure if that’s the correct term.  She would later marry a guy who became the only dad, my grand daughter would recognize as dad.  He and his family love her to pieces.

BAC didn’t show up in her life again until he learned she’d had a son. His mom, sister and brother were always in Becca’s life, so it wasn’t as if he was totally unknown to her, but he wasn’t dad and she’d never met him.  She finally agreed to meet him.  By then, he’d been in and out of prison, lost an eye in a fight and was living on the streets.  He’d stolen from friends, and abused his friendships. He was a mess, but despite that she says philosophically, “he lived life on his terms.”  She doesn’t hate or admire him.

My daughter met his “wife” and she told her that he stayed away as much as possible because, he said regarding his daughter, “she was the only good thing I ever did” and didn’t want to ruin that. She was the only child he would ever have.

Now, here he was, at 48, in a box. (His mom gave permission to use his pic on this blog.)

The program had a picture of him when he was young and the way my daughter remembered him when they first met.  She lost it.  She never expected that hurt to spring up after 26 years.

The homeless people laid out a spread you would not believe, but no one, except the homeless ate anything that they’d prepared. Even then, they didn’t eat until most everyone had left. We drank water and dipped only what our own hands touched.  There was a pork loin (several, in fact) that were on the barbecue, but when I saw this guy slicing it up with his filthy hands… well.

My grand daughter and I made an attempt to talk to them, but discovered that most of them seriously suffered mentally and from their addictions. They did say, he talked about us often.  It was difficult to watch. We learned that some of these folks had, at one time, had come from good homes. Some were well educated and talented. I learned they  are provided phones and other resources by family and friends, who have not abandoned them completely, but don’t know what else to do for them. There was among this older group, one young man, who is probably not unlike BAC was at one time and it saddened my heart to see and wonder where he would end up. It was sad all the way around in so many ways.

BAC died peacefully I hear.  He got up one day and sat down at the table and that was it.  He died where he sat.

My daughter said, she believed it started when his father died while he was still in high school.  He never got over it. I think people are more aware of the impact of traumatic events these days, but perhaps not so much then. No two people suffer the same and for some, it is deeply hidden and surfaces subtly.

His high school jock friends turned out. They went to college and he went to drugs, but they were there anyway.  Some were childhood friends and others he’d grown up with later and they came.  Two of his friends went out on their boards to deposit his ashes.  None of his homeless friends except for his wife, would walk that far (one block) to the beach for his send off.  For me, it was so evident who his true friends were.

 

When his friend had paddled the required 1/4 mile to deposit the ashes, he said that once the ashes got wet, they felt like 50 pounds on his back.  The sea was not in his favor and he returned exhausted.  That’s friendship.

Bret sendoff