I found this “plea” in my Zoho Docs folder, a folder I rarely open. I had long ago forgotten writing this on March 18, 2016. I was homeless at the time, and had been homeless for quite a few years. Little did I know that my exact plea was to be answered, four months and nine days later. Not only did I receive the “lock on the door, window, and power outlet” for which I was pleading; I even received the “community of like-minded Artists and visionaries” that I was hoping would replace my homeless community. So I cannot help but post this plea — verbatim and unaltered, in all its raw and fervent appeal. The only thing that has been changed is that the words now appearing in italics were once in caps, since it was written on a Facebook timeline.
I apologize for my recent mania. Although — I’m thinking. What exactly is wrong with mania? What is there to apologize for? People tell me I “exhaust” them. But to me, almost everybody else seems to be moving in slow motion. Is it morally wrong that I think and move so quickly? Of course not. But I begin to develop a chip on my shoulder. I do not know how to express this dynamic clearly or articulately, or in a manner that would be persuasive of my case. My “apology” — such as it is — is placed before your eyes in order that it may be held distinct from the mania that was placed in another venue. I am banking on your objectivity to help me to believe that I can find words to express my position in such a way that will incur the empathy of the powerful.
This is because I, despite an empathic nature, despite an articulate presence, have been robbed of my natural power by a set of conditions and circumstances that have persisted far past the point of the conscious choices that initially set them into motion. That set of conditions and circumstances is called, in a word, homelessness. It has been going on for eleven years now. I do not know how I have made it this far. But I do know that I am not going to make it much farther without real help from someone who has the power to help and who cares to help. So: let’s get real.
I cannot live outdoors any longer. I mean – I can, but we may expect my life to end within the next two years at best. From eleven years of Homelessness I am finally breaking down. I, even I. No one can take the overwhelming conditions of homelessness for long without breaking in some way at some point. That I have endured this long is miraculous — especially in combination with the fact that every single person who is homeless understands my issue completely – whether they can articulate it or not – and every single person who lives indoors believes that my issue is something other than what it is.
Initially, this dynamic fascinated me. It fascinated me on an academic level, sociologically, as an item of analysis. But it has grown to disgust me. Not on an emotional level — but on a revolutionary level. Let me articulate my issue as clearly as I can. I know you love me – and I know you have had your own overwhelming issues. And I am proud of you. But please hear what my issue is. Every homeless person I know will echo this issue. I might as well speak in the editorial “we.” I speak on behalf of the Homeless People of the United States of America.
Our issue is that we feel unloved.
Much as I know that you love me, much as I know that my brother loves me, much as I know that my best female friend loves me – and if I have a remaining male friend who has not rejected me totally, he probably loves me too, whoever he is — I do not feel loved. None of us do. We feel unloved because it is not possible for us to grasp the disparity between the love that we see in the eyes of those who profess it – the love that I hear in your voice and in the voice of my brother and of my best female friend – and the other side of that dynamic, which is that none of the people who love us so will let us into their homes, much less agree to rent rooms to us, even in exchange for good money that we promise to pay. This is a universal homeless phenomenon.
Apparently, it is thought that we do not bathe. That our clothes are filthy. That we cannot manage. We will do something horrible in your house. If this were not the case, then why are we not in houses of our own? Although we know that the demand for affordable housing far exceeds the supply – in America – we still feel somehow blamed for the fact that we are the one who got left without residence. It’s as though we’re all in a competition, we are the ones who lost the game, and the booby prize is homelessness.
Rather than look at us as “losers,” why not view us according to reason? Because of high demand and low supply, somebody had to get left. It just happened to be us. We feel like lepers. We are the ostracized, the rejected, the pariahs, the untouchables. We are the perennial round pegs who did not fit, despite ourselves, into the square holes of the society that has discarded us.
We feel unloved because we do not understand how all these people who love us are permitting us to persist in a pattern of life that we have pleaded with them to help us to escape. For some of us, those pleas have been sent out for years. In my case, for eleven years. During that time there have been brief oases of residence that have lasted in some cases as long as six or seven months or more, before — before what? Something happened, and we are out in the wilderness once more.
What is that happened? Why did we lose those short-lived residential sites? It is because we didn’t want to sell used cars for our landlords, nor trim their marijuana plants. The housemates didn’t like the way that we paced the floors, or perhaps we were possessed of an annoying tick or snore that kept them awake at night. When asked to put something in the microwave, we who were absent-minded put it in the broiler oven instead. When it was discovered that we had been homeless, that somehow explained everything in the eyes of the potential landlord, and those eyes moved on to the next applicant — the one who had references and a credit rating, the one who either had not been homeless, or else was remarkably good at hiding the fact that they had. If the latter were the case, and one would possess that depth of discretion (I, by the way, do not), then one would probably have been shrewd enough to have avoided homelessness altogether in the first place.
In my case, after seven years of struggling, I finally became homeless by choice. That choice was made long ago. Made gladly, as you know. The problem is that it is no longer my choice. But I am having the devil of the time acting on the new choice – which is not to be homeless – because the stigmata that is Homelessness radiates from my forehead like a scarlet letter, as though warning everyone who crosses my path that I, like the others, having dabbled in the darkness that is homelessness, am thereby marked and branded. I differ from Cain only in that I have not yet killed a man. But I am just as marked, living in the awful place of confusion wherein the love of God so fills my heart that I know I am forgiven, and yet I know not what it is for which one must forgive me. I know that only God has forgiven me, and suspect that only God can. For we are those whom Man cannot forgive: The Unforgiven in the Eyes of Man. Not only that, but we do not know what we did that they won’t forgive us for. Ask ten people, we get ten different answers.
Homeless? You must be lazy. You’re not? Then you’re a loser. You’re not? Then you’re a dead beat. You’re not? Well then, shall we say, scum bag? Dirt bag? Piece of shit – that’s it! You must be a piece of shit. No doubt you are seriously drug-addicted. Hard drugs, the kind that ought never be discussed, much less indulged. You must be an alcoholic. Or severely mentally unhealthy – yes, that’s it. You’re a wing nut. Homeless? What do you mean by homeless? There’s got to be a reason for it.
Well, yes there is a reason. By definition, a person is homeless because he does not have a home. Whatever those other problems are – and believe me, if you’re homeless for long enough, you’ll encounter them all- they certainly cannot be solved until the problem of Homelessness that preempted them is solved. Otherwise, they will only recur again and again, because Homelessness feeds them. They come with the territory. We not only are homeless, but we will always be homeless, and we should always be homeless. We not only will never have a place to live indoors again, but we should not ever have a place to live again. Through the impaired vision of America, homelessness is seen not as a temporary state of affairs, but as a permanent and insoluble, incurable condition of the soul.
It is not that I happen to be able to withstand cold temperatures and inclement weather. It is not that I sleep in thunderstorms without a bedroll, shouting “Bring it On!” and exerting mighty pelvic thrusts toward the stars with each successive lightning bolt or thunderclap. It is not that I have not worn a jacket since 1985, or that I ran my half-marathon PR in 35 mph gales high on LSD flanked by local city cops. It is not that I am gonzo. True – I got exactly what I asked for, and if my book on the subject, the book that has needed to be written for years now, the book that explains the conditions from homelessness according to an author who actually is homeless and not according to some detached liberal social worker or socio-economist or some other form of clueless ivory tower bleeding heart do-gooder – but from the card-carrying, gun-toting homeless bro in dick mode, the real homeless man, AKA Yours Truly. That book is being written faster than these words are being penned, however spontaneously. And people tell me I exhaust them? Ha! They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
That I have pleaded persistently with people who do have the power to terminate this way of living for me and help me into dignified indoor situation – not a “shelter” – nothing to do with “services” – nothing to do with a “program” – nothing to do with agencies, facilities, or institutions, but an actual living situation that entails outside the realm of homelessness, that (unlike the others) does not simply lead the homeless back to homelessness. A dignified living situation, where it will not be assumed that I am a criminal, that I plot crimes when so visibly preoccupied – I do not – where my writings of music and text and script on all levels will actually be met with a supportive environment of like-minded Artists and visionaries, rather than with further attempts to transform the vibrancy of this particularly uniquely gifted Child of the Most High into an impassive robot clone who serves the purposes of a sterile society consisting of those whose claim to fame is neither to threaten, not to make waves, not to cause wrinkles in time or similar anomalies that would disrupt the deluded flow of a culture gone awry. I refuse to join the ranks of those whose brains have been suspended until further notice so that they no longer can think for themselves but only serve the purposes of the State and of spiritual wickedness in high places when I AM A CHILD OF GOD! I AM A CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH KING! I AM BORN OF THE UNIVERSE THAT IS UNFOLDING ACCORDING TO DIVINE DESIGN, and I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE WHO I AM!
And I’m tired. Believe it or not, I — even I — tire. I exhaust even myself. So I close.
These could be the words of an asshole. But they are not. They are the words of a person who has been chosen to receive a message that he will articulate with precision and persuasive power. It is a message that America needs to hear – and that the nation, yea the world, has not yet heard. It is not that the message has not been delivered. On the contrary, it has been submitted en masse. It is that those to whom it has been spoken either have not listened, or they have not needed to hear it. Who has not listened to the message? Those of you live indoors. Who does not need to hear it? The homeless people of America who, ironically, are the only ones listening to it.
I can no longer abide the fact that only other homeless people are hearing the message that needs to be heard by those who are not. Somebody somewhere please grant me a place to live indoors that contains three prerequisites:
(1) It must have a window. I will probably need air from the outdoors at all times.
(2) It must have a lock on a single door, and a hide-a-key under a stone outside.
(3) It must have at least one power outlet.
I will provide the rest. I will pay up to $460 a month. But no more, because I will need to have a grocery chain like Safeway deliver food to my door. If somebody wants to kick down a new pair of Size 11 1/2 New Balance running shoes, it will be greatly appreciated, but not necessary to the task. I need – obviously- to write.
To write – the Homeless Message to the Mainstream of Modern American Life. What we want – is to be heard. What we want – is to be understood. What we want – is to be believed. What we want – is to be respected. We could care less if you say you “love” us — because, we cannot believe that you love us, and yet never let us in your home to so much as take a shower in exchange for money. We will believe that you love us when you begin to listen to what we have to say.
It will take me approximately five months to finish the book which currently is outlined in a 12 – page single space outline in standard outline form which I will submit to anyone interested.
My daughter, I love you. And I am proud of you. My brother, my sister, all of you — I love you. But I have something to say and I am going to get myself into the position where I will be physically and technically able to say it. Somebody get me out of the situation where I have to spend 90% of my time searching either for outdoor power outlets or chump change for North Berkeley coffeehouses with attitudes.
Here is the ninth and of last of my speeches on the Homeless Phenomenon in America. It is called “A Parallel and Opposing Culture.” Please – don’t just listen to it. Believe it.
And whoever happens to have gotten to the bottom of this, if there’s a God in Heaven or Beyond, that Power will bless you richly.
March 18, 2016
A Parallel and Opposing Culture
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8 thoughts on “The Unforgiven in the Eyes of Man”
Reblogged this with a whole lot of extra thoughts.
I started crying when I got to the end. Thank you for blessing me. Please know I’ll do the same for you.
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Of course you would, and I know that. And I think I know what you mean about the ending. I’d forgotten I’d ever written this — and I cried, too. Thank you for your tears. Peace –
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Such a powerful piece, Andy. There is nothing I would have adjusted, it stands as it is. I don’t seem to cry about much these days, perhaps because I’m not shocked anymore at how the world operates. What I love about this piece is that it addresses how society and the world tries to mould how we think and feel and what we aspire to and these trends, which it seems to be are driven by capitalism, seem to be eroding a common sense humanity. This piece also shows graphically how much you are aware of and know about the issues of homelessness and can articulate them so well. Will share!
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Thanks, Lynne. I was about to yank it and dive into further editing (for the sake of clarity and power). But now that both you and Melissa have shared it, I will let go. I agree fully about capitalism — or at least, the current American take on capitalism — being wrapped up in a distortion of humane values. It was amazing to have unearthed this piece — I’ll be checking the forgotten folder in the future for further gems. Many Blessings and Peace.
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I have never felt love in the sense of a return from another. I intellectually understand I am loved by people I trust. But do you know what love is always there? It’s the love I am for that which is not my frame of reference. You, my Dharma brothers and sisters, those people who aren’t afraid of transparent relationship. I have love when I feel love. I think that’s the love that truly belongs to what ever God you embrace. It’s me giving love that creates it, not that empty place of trying to get it.
I really like this blog. I honor your willingness to be transparent and open. Rare isn’t it?
Take care of you and all you love.
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Thanks, Bryan. I’m certainly no expert on love, and the word has multiple meanings. Outside of the word being used, misused and abused in contemporary culture, there are at least four different words that I know of in the Greek language at the time the New Testament was written: eros, philia, storge, and agape. Though they have widely different meanings, they all translate into English as “love.” Using that as a model, the type of love my brother and my friends were talking about when they said that they “loved” me would be along the lines of philia and storge. And I did not doubt their truthfulness, as I tried to emphasize in this plea. But the love I needed, the love that we who were homeless lacked, was agape. That would be “love in action,” which in its truest form, is independent of feeling.
Who would “feel” more loved? The homeless person whose brother or best friend said “I love you” and did nothing to help them, or the homeless person who receives help from a total stranger? (A Good Samaritan, as it were.) Obviously, the latter. Agape love, what the Catholics used to call “good will in action,” and what in a bygone era was called “Christian love,” is not something one feels. It is something one does.
That said, I have love when I feel it, as have you, as do we all. And thank you for your taking note of my transparency. I get tired of religious hypocrites, and my Lord Jesus didn’t take to them very well either. Jesus was real, He told it like it is, and I believe He expects His followers to be real as well. Thanks for your thoughts, and your words. Peace.
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