I recently reconnected with the kindhearted person who assisted me in July 2016 by blessing me with a one way ticket out of California. When I first got up to Idaho, this person suggested that, while I ought to write and give talks about homelessness, I ought to wait five years first. After five years, he suggested, I would be more objective.
Coming Full Circle
As it turns out, he was right. Five years have just about passed, and I find myself to be considerably more objective. As a result, I am objective enough to have realized that in the past five years I have submitted column after column about homelessness, most of my words falling on deaf ears, while my stress level constantly increases and I make almost next to nothing off of these columns financially. In short, it’s reached a point of diminishing returns. And that’s fine with me. I have already said, in many blog posts and speeches throughout the past five years, everything that I have needed to say.
So I have decided to submit one last post about homeless rights activism before the Far-Left ideologues in Portland spread their “houseless” euphemism all over the nation, as if the change of wording does anything whatsoever to dignify the homeless experience. They influenced impressionable young people and used language such as “We will forgive you if you can’t make the switch right away. Positive change takes time.”
Note use of the word “forgive.” This puts in the young person’s brain the notion that it is a moral error, that they did something “wrong” by using the word “homeless” instead of “houseless,” for which they needed to be “forgiven.”
Now I will openly admit that I lean a little bit to the Left these days. But the tactics of these ivory tower ideologues are so insidious, they remind me of the fact that liberal social workers in Berkeley treated me like less like a human being and more like a “number” than even random conservative cops who stopped to question me.
Cops treated me like a human being. Liberal social workers, with whose politics I might have otherwise agreed, treated me like a round peg they were trying to cram into a square hole. To them, my Social Security Number was more important than my name.
But I need to add that my “lived experience” is subjective. For example, I was old enough and wise enough to know that, when a cop approaches, it is best to be cordial and conciliatory. A lot of the younger homeless people immediately became defiant on approach of a police officer. Of course the cop would be nicer to me in that event, than to them.
Being as my lived experience is admittedly subjective, to what degree can I possibly represent the vast array of homeless people, in all their diversity and variety?
Anyway, before these verbal hygienists succeed in getting Homeless Rights Activism changed to Houseless Rights Activism, I am going to go my way. My feeling is that the likelihood that that the human rights of homeless people will ever be validated, and the homeless experience will ever be dignified as a legitimate way of life, is so depressingly slim, why am I bothering any further? I’ve said all there is to say, and no one involved either in homeless services or homeless rights is listening.
My buddies in Berkeley tell me that only the youngsters are saying “houseless.” Gee it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out! And of course, everyone who is outside simply says “outside.” It happened just the other day. A friend of mine who has long hair and a beard was sitting with me on a bench in the woods by Paradise Path. A guy rode up on a bicycle asking if we knew “Robert” or “Jeremy.”
“Are they outside?” I asked.
“Yeah, they’re outside.”
The whole way that people don’t listen to a person who has actually been homeless is all part of the fact that homeless people are not acknowledged as full human beings. I felt it for years. I was a not a person. I was a homeless person.
Letting Go of the Past
In order to put it all the past, don’t you think I have to put it all in the past? I allude to PTSD and balk at ever discussing the initial traumatic event. I told my best friend on the streets, a black guy named Jerome, and he said: “Do me a favor. Do not ever tell that story to anyone again.”
I started to tell my best female friend Lauren and she shouted: “STOP! STOP!” In this twisted society, you just can’t talk about the thing you most need to talk about.
I’m through! I’ve said it all except for one thing, and I’ll say it today:
Homeless Rights Activists in Berkeley advocated for the “rights” of career criminals committing heinous crimes who should have been behind bars. They didn’t distinguish who was a criminal from who was not, because they were so hung up on noticing who was “sober” and who was not. As if a sober person can’t commit a crime, and is if many people with drug problems are not perfectly decent people who simply have serious problems.
Similarly, those of us who were not criminally inclined were treated like criminals by Left-leaning social workers, like this one guy who had a van and drove around delivering socks and other self-care items to the homeless. In our conversations, it was almost assumed that I should be a criminal. I was encouraged to do gnarly things that violated my Christian moral code.
There is another thing I must add. The reason why homeless rights activists were focused on how “sober” a person was (as opposed to being drunk or, more likely, on drugs) was because they equated homelessness with drug addiction, as though the two were synonymous.
Also, if someone developed a drug problem, it was assumed that it was the drug problem that led to their becoming homeless, and not the other way around. If a homeless person told them the truth about where the drug problem began, they assumed that the homeless person was lying. The idea that, surrounded by drug abuse year after year, a straight-laced Christian-type guy might eventually become drug-addicted, was not accepted as factual, even when it was the truth.
It was all part and parcel of the way that the social workers dehumanized and undignified us. And now, since homeless/houseless rights activism has been co-opted by the Far Left, there really isn’t much room for truth.
Let Your Eye Be Single
So — that’s all I have left to say. I’m through. I’m done! I am only a piano player, and that is the only person whom I want to be. I’m tired of losing sleep at night over all the ridiculous crap I have to contend with in order to maintain my stance among all these people.
Tired of spreading myself thin. It’s ungodly. Jesus said: “Whoever is not for me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.” Why am I scattering myself? I have a job to do. I have a musical to produce.
Jesus said: “If your eye be single, then your whole body is full of light. But if your eye be evil, than your whole body will be full of darkness — and how great is that darkness!”
These are stern words. I would prefer to heed them. There is a chance — an outside chance, perhaps – then when Eden in Babylon is produced, people will kinda “get it.” They’ll get what it’s actually like, or at least what a cross section of the Wide Wide World of Homelessness is like. They might leave the theatre, merely entertained. Or they might have learned something.
That alone is a noble enough goal. I spoke with someone last night who said: “You are not only a piano player — you are also an excellent writer!” I felt like retorting: “Have you ever heard me play the piano? No you haven’t. Are you going to hear me play the piano, and then tell me I should be a writer?”
I don’t have the power to direct the course of my life from here. In my book, I would get the show produced, become a total recluse in some far-off land, collect royalties, and play my piano till the day I die. But let’s face it. My book is not God’s book – and it never can be.
So when I say “there is no way,” maybe there actually is a way. With us mere mortals, it is impossible. With God, all things are possible.
Matthew 12:30, Matthew 6:22-23, Mark 10:27.
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