The Homeless Link

Below is a verbatim transcript of my column Rebuilding Trust by Strengthening the “Homeless Link” as it was recently published on the independent news site, Spokane Faith and Values, under the editorship of Tracy Simmons.   

When asked to write about our need to address the erosion of trust in our national consciousness, the first thing that crossed my mind is that I’ve never fully succeeded at rebuilding trust on a personal level. But I don’t think this failure is unique to me alone.

In today’s society, when friendships or business relationships go sour, it is much more likely that one will simply “move on” than that a person will expend the energy needed to repair a broken relationship. After all, such an energy expense is often painful, and people don’t like to endure pain unless it’s absolutely necessary. And with so many options for replacing unfavorable associations with more promising ones, why should one concern oneself with mending fences?

Through increased mobility and the phenomenal interactive potential of social media, it’s more accurate to depict people as jumping several fences in succession – more-or-less like hurdles in a track meet – than going back to mend any of them. The unusual ease with which people sever their personal contacts these days is assisted by the fact that through electronic communications and social media, one is able to block, delete, or ignore someone completely unilaterally. People take advantage of this convenience, often without prior word of warning or common courtesy.

Though social media has the potential to build bridges, it also helps us to burn them. Our worlds have become increasingly fragmented, and it is common on instant messengers for people to drop out of conversations abruptly and leap over to a new conversation without answering the last question or even saying goodbye. How can trust possibly be built when so many interactions are left incomplete?

Moreover, busy people may receive 500 emails a day and not have time to answer five of them. We have come to accept non-response as a response, but what does that response say? We have no idea, really. We only know that they won’t talk to us, we don’t know why, and the mass phenomenon of all this electronic dismissal, one of another, has eaten away at the morale of an entire nation.

If we’re going to think about rebuilding trust, we need first to consider that there will never be trust at the expense of communication. This applies not only to personal relationships, but to human associations at all levels of society. We don’t trust our educational system, we don’t trust our clergy, we don’t trust the politicians whom we have elected to represent us, and we certainly don’t trust corporate officers. While I would be the last to advocate a reactionary return to a less inclusive era, I will be the first to propose that a revival of misplaced values such as common courtesy and mutual respect would be a good place to start if we are to go about rebuilding trust on a grander scale.

Our devaluing of respectful communication is, to my view, a function of our inordinate love of personal pleasures. It is natural that in a culture so fraught with danger, we would seek escape in diversions that distract us from our troubles. But for many, it has become more important to feel good than to do good. When given a choice between feeling good and doing good, we often choose the former.

A man storms out of the house after an argument with his wife. Instead of returning to bless her with a surprise bouquet, he takes that money to a poker game and escapes into a night of male bonding with the boys. We take our ten dollar bills to the movie theater in order to entertain ourselves, and we ignore the beggar outside the theater whose life might end in the cold that night if he doesn’t get two dollars for an all-night bus pass. We justify our self-serving nature by rationalizing that the person on the other end of our avarice has made bad choices in their lives, and that they need to learn from their mistakes by being deprived of basic needs. But we are neither gods nor goddesses, and no human being is in the moral position to judge another for their station in life, especially when we have no idea what the conditions were that got them there.

As cities become more congested, and the rapid pace of life accelerates, we stigmatize. We hesitate to take the time to listen to the unique stories of those who cross our paths. Instead, we view people according to what “box” we can place them in. The box of leftie. The box of drug addict. The boxes of codependent, feminist, fundamentalist. The list goes on and on. We judge people according to their “boxes,” rather than recognize them as the unique individuals whom they are.

Nowhere is this stereotyping more flagrant than in typical attitudes toward the homeless. Every homeless person has their story, and I have found that these stories are generally told truthfully. But because of our fast-paced agendas and stigmatic notions as to what the homeless are about, we don’t stop to engage these fellow citizens, especially if we feel interrupted. People do not like to witness visible poverty in all its ugliness, so we turn our heads away from the very people who may need our attention the most.

In hearing any stranger’s story, of course we will have doubts as to its veracity. In the case of a homeless stranger’s story, one often suspects it is only a covert plea for financial assistance. But how do we know that if we don’t stop to hear them out? The fact is, unless the homeless person is visibly drunk or loaded, we have no idea how they are going to spend that money. A recent study by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction estimates that 27 percent of homeless people are drug-addicted. Yet I have lived in big cities where homelessness and drug addiction are thought to be synonymous in the eyes of passersby.

Well, we think, if we give the homeless person food, then we’re still doing good, and we’re on the safe side. So we drop some food off every now and then and wash our hands of the matter. What matter? The matter that we haven’t engaged them, we haven’t heard their voices. We haven’t made no effort to discern whether a hand-up might be more applicable than a hand-out.

I’m not suggesting we cease to feed the hungry. I’m suggesting we get to know the hungry. Talk to a homeless person about something other than their homelessness. Take the time to learn what kind of person they are. Do they want to remain homeless all their lives? Some do. Most don’t. The only way we come to find out is by involving them, by treating the homeless with dignity — as equals, with respect — and not as lesser sub-human mutants or inanimate objects to step over around and over whilst they sleep.

That is the core of the true homeless problem, and it also would be a great place to start in rebuilding trust within the society as a whole. If we want to restore unity in a divided culture, why don’t we first bring inclusion to those who have been the most abandoned? In doing so, we could conceivably inaugurate a chain reaction, and trust may be ignited all the way up the scale. A chain, after all, is only as strong as its weakest link. What link could possibly be weaker than that of the homeless?

I say we strengthen the Homeless Link. Provide for a homeless person neither pity nor judgment, but encouragement, hope, and respect. Maybe — just maybe — this is what it will take to renew the lost strength of an entire nation.

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Gratitude List 845

1. Though the energy of absent-mindedness and frustration drained me yesterday, it caused me to go to bed early and get a good seven hours sleep.

2. Jan & I get along really well with a sense of each of us making the other one better, and the two of us getting better and better.  We really seem to have been made for each other.

3. It was great running into the three musicians outside of One World, and feeling a special bond or connection you don’t just feel with just anybody.  Their love lifted me up at a low moment.

4. Sold an LP to a great musician who been very helpful to me, despite that this has been one of the worst years of his life.

5. Finished the Open Letter.

6. I’ve never lived in a place where people are as positive as they are here.

7. Danielle had the baby. :)  

8. Touched up The Temple of the Human Race and submitted it to Other Worlds.  Submitted “Classism, Stigma and Mental Health” to Classism Exposed and Street Spirit.  Submitted “The Age of Nevermore” to Street Spirit.

9. It’s really okay for people to think I’m crazy or in some way undesirable or to be avoided.  That way they leave me alone and I can get my work done.

10. For numerous reasons, I have wiped out Facebook and other sites I have found problematical with respect to my new life.  I have made a complete commitment to cease to bring the negativity of my past in California to the positivity of my present life in a part of the world that has been much more conducive to my creative and spiritual growth.  2 Corinthians 5:17.  God is Love.

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An Open Letter to All Believers Who Use Facebook

Brothers & Sisters:

I need prayer for Facebook addiction.  I don’t want to ever have to log on to that site again.   My mind becomes flooded with Facebook-related matters in such a way that interferes with my focus on the important things.  This even happened in counseling with Pastor Norman yesterday.

I was off of Facebook, hopefully for good, for about five or six weeks, not wanting to return to it.  The only reason I came back is because I found it impossible to communicate with the singers on my demo project by email or phone.  They wouldn’t return emails or phone calls when I was trying to organize rehearsals.  Erika (one of the singers) said I should start a Facebook if I wanted to talk to them.

Begrudgingly, I returned to Facebook.  All the singers accepted my Facebook friend requests immediately and I was then able to organize rehearsals and a studio date.  The problem on my end is that it then led to a progressive illness with regards to Facebook.  I’ve begun to think a lot about people whom I haven’t known for decades and never knew very well to begin with.  I’ve begun to think a lot about situations in Berkeley, where I haven’t lived for almost two years ago.   Basically, the “Old Story” was being fed, and the “New Story” being starved.

Yesterday, to cap it all off, I saw I had a message from my friend Todd, to whom this email is cc’d.  Because it was Todd, and not just any old Facebook “friend,”  I logged on to Facebook to check the message, even though I’d told everybody I was going to “take a break” from the site.  He had a video I could use for Homeless Lives Matter, a very compelling video that was appropriate for that site.  It was called “Homeless People Read Mean Tweets.”  It showed a number of homeless people sitting around reading anti-homeless tweets that were very mean-spirited, as well as, in most cases, ignorant.  So I shared it to the site.

Immediately, a woman named R. made a comment that “people who are housed” read mean tweets, too.  Long story short, by the end of the night, the comments section on Homeless Lives Matter was full of an argument between R. and somebody named Georgia who objected to her attitude.  It included a lengthy account about how R. had let me stay over at her house and how I left water on the floor after taking a shower and “blocked a doorway,” both of which events are plausible, but neither of them memorable.

(I do recall in those days that people frequently objected to manifestations of my absent-minded nature when, on rare occasions, they permitted me to shower at their homes or sleep on their couches.   I object, as you know. to these same manifestations, which occur to this day.  Absent-mindedness is probably the biggest problem I have now, holding me back more than any other idiosyncrasy.)

In any case, this woman — whom I only know from a single occasion — went on and on about how self-absorbed and self-preoccupied I am, only caring about myself and my music, not having consideration for her needs, and so forth.  In other words, this woman whom I had known for exactly one night flagrantly assassinated my character on a timeline where 600 members of the group I started in Berkeley could read it.  I am not an Admin of that group and no power to remove the inflammatory posts, so I simply deleted the video.

My lady friend Jan later said that this “highlights” the whole insanity of the Facebook phenomenon.  People don’t take the evils of Facebook seriously enough.  I have had friends post extremely personal information on my timeline, much of it completely erroneous or even stuff that would endanger their own security.  Then they wonder why I am removing their comments.  The world does need to know their personal business, or mine, and it baffles me why people won’t at least keep such comments in Messenger, where they are directed only toward the person for whom they are intended.

In any case, I need prayer for this addiction, because I had to deal with nightmares about R. all night, who also needs prayer.  I literally know this woman from a single night, was grateful she gave me the opportunity to rest up and shower when I was homeless, and was puzzled when she screamed and yelled at me in the morning.  That, several years later, she would even still be “tripping” on that incident, is beyond me.  All night long I dreamed about her having some psychotic obsession with me and stalking me all the way up to Northern Idaho.

For people who think that Facebook is “no big deal” — possibly even for my friend Todd himself (?) — my concerns may seem over the top.  After all, not everybody has an addictive personality, and many people “manage” the site very well.  But my premise is that the site itself is evil, and from the very pit of hell, to the same extent that a drug like crystal methamphetamine is evil, and from that same pit.

Any site that would post a link to “request account deletion” (as though account deletion ought to be a “request” and not a willful choice), and then tell you to fill out a certain form if you would like for your account to be deleted after your death raises a major red flag. Why anyone would support the money-loving evil in Mark Zuckerberg is far more baffling to me than why anyone would support Donald Trump.  Both baffle.  One baffles more.

Todd, I posted an article by a Christian woman named Ashley Slack.  Jan and I read this last night and were both extremely impressed.   I also have written this article: By Nature.

One response to that article, when posted on Facebook, was a recommendation from a certain well-meaning friend on how I ought to deal with “depression.”  This is due in part to the fact that because the first sentence alludes to depression, one might think that the entire article is about my personal depression.  Anyone reading that article in its entirety (which the well-meaning friend had not done) would discern easily that it had nothing to do with depression, but with a far more important subject than my own personal mental state.

However, this well-meaning friend then proceeded, quite innocently, to advise me on my timeline as to how to address depression, thus leading all of my hundreds of Facebook “friends” to believe I was in a depressed state.  What would logically have ensued would be a gigantic discussion on an open timeline about a problem that I simply did not have.

When I tried to tell this well-meaning friend about this, he suggested that I was “getting all bent out of shape over nothing.”  Well, maybe to him it is nothing, but to me, I certainly don’t need hundreds of people believing I am depressed (which I am not) anymore than I needed for hundreds of people to believe that I am a self-serving person who believes in retaliating against people who live indoors (as R. was saying) simply on the basis of my having left some water on a bathroom floor and, apparently, blocked a doorway, during the single night I slept at this woman’s house (on the couch) and had to deal with her screaming and yelling at me in the morning for no reason that I was aware of.

That this woman R. would even still be thinking about this isolated event from several years ago is testament to just how many kooks and creeps abound on the timelines of various Facebooks the whole world wide.

Finally, I wrote this article: The End of an Era.  And guess what?  The era did not end.

Facebook makes it far too easy to re-instate an account one is desperately trying to remove, and far too difficult to delete the account. In fact, the easiest “deletion” link to find leads you to believe that the account cannot be deleted until after death.  That is sick.

Also sick:

Facebook is a Living, Breathing Crime Scene.

The Naked Truth About Facebook’s Revenge Porn Tool

Facebook’s Tracking Cookies (European Report)

Facebook Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

How Facebook’s Tentacles Reach Further Than You Think

You want more?   I got ’em.   Here is a list of 66 sites that Facebook has unilateraterally deleted in the past two weeks – unilaterally, mind you.  None of these sites were in violation of Facebook Terms of Service.  Yet they seem to have something suspiciously in common:

  1. Collectively Conscious (915K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  2. Natural Cures Not Medicine (2.3M followers) – Deleted on June 11th, 2018.
  3. I Want to Be 100% Organic (700K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  4. Viral Alternative News (500K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  5. Organic Health (230K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  6. Natural Cures From Food (120K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  7. Heart Centered Rebalancing (3.9M followers) –
  8. Awareness Act
  9. Conscious Life News
  10. Living Traditionally (570K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.
  11. Organic Wellness (600K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.
  12. Chocolate Socrates (608K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  13. Earth We Are One
  14. Meditation Masters – Deleted in early June, 2018
  15. People’s Awakening
  16. Nikola Tesla
  17. Interesting Stories
  18. The Warrior
  19. Natural Health Warriors
  20. Tech Explorers
  21. Universe Explorers
  22. Area 51
  23. The Global Meditation
  24. Video Explorers
  25. com
  26. Flower of Life
  27. EWAO
  28. Global Freedom Movement (27K followers) – Deleted on June 19th, 2018.
  29. Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  30. Pure Nature (1.7M followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  31. Nature Gallery (654K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  32. Mesmerizing Nature (912K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  33. Nature’s Touch (150K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  34. Healthy Life Box (1.8M followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  35. Healthy Food House (3.4M followers) –
  36. Health Awareness (2.5M followers) –
  37. Healthy Life And Food (350K followers) – Deleted on May 23rd, 2018.
  38. Check These Things (80K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  39. Health Care Above All (90K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  40. Health and Healthy Living (450K followers) –
  41. Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  42. Healthy Living Motivation (644K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  43. Alternative Health Universe (420K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  44. Natural Medicine Corner (411K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  45. Organic Health Team (490K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  46. Global Health Care (130K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  47. Healthy Alternative Medicine (140K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  48. Natural Healthy Team (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  49. Organic Food Medicine (30K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  50. Love, Health and Happiness (10K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  51. Healthy Organic Life (25K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  52. Healthy Lifestyle (55K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  53. Guardian of Health (160K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  54. Daily Health Keeper (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  55. Health & Love Page (720K followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.
  56. Diabetes Health Page (180K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  57. The Beauty of Power (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  58. Nutrition Facts and Analysys (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  59. Deeper Perspectives (32K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  60. My Own Little World (1.5m) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  61. Brighten Your Soul (100k plus) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  62. Essence OF Spirit ( 12k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  63. We really like animals (544k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  64. Nature’s Majesty (191k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  65. Nature Magic (33k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  66. Floral Photobook (160k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018

Hmmm — payola from the Medical-Pharmaceutical Industry?   Really, peeps.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.  Finally:

To seek popularity
has nothing whatsoever to do
with Christian Love.
To collect friends,
to collect “likes”
or seek a greater number thereof,
are abominations in the eyes of a Loving God.

(And you can put a “thus saith the Lord” on that one.)

Sure, we want to send pictures of our children and our vacation locations to close friends and family.  But do we really need for a world full of child molesters, thieves, and thugs to know our whereabouts or see our children’s faces?

I knew a Christian pastor who was a “friends collector.”  Last I checked (two years ago) this man had 2,617 “friends.”  People would tell me: “None of Pastor C.’s friends are people to worry about.”  Yet among his “friends” were hardened criminals in the community who had hit me on the head with guns and stolen my laptop.

Do you think for one minute that these criminals have Facebook accounts because they like people?  Not at all.  They use Facebook in order to gain information as to user’s whereabouts, track them down, rob from them, assault them, and (in some cases) kill them.

Remember, all of this started out when a badly needed demo recording of my musical Eden in Babylon was made impossible without my resuming my Facebook account only because it was the only way I could expect to get a hold of the singers I’d spent months saving up the money to hire.

And then — the evil power of Facebook prevailed over my best intentions, to this day.

Hopefully, only to this day.

Please join me in my prayer that One Day at a Time, I will never log onto Facebook again.  And — while I cannot tell anyone else how to lead their Internet and device-based lives, I can only implore you all (including those in the bcc field) to consider that the words I am speaking might be the truth.

In the name of Jesus, I write.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,

Andy

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Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup Four

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. No.

Q. Then why have you summoned me?

A. Because I am disgusted.

Q. Disgusted?  With what?  With whom?

A. Disgusted with a lot of things, but mostly with myself – and with a certain Internet site that has been the number one stumbling block to my success for just about as long as I can remember.

Q. And what site is that?

A. You know what site it is!   Read this!

Five minutes elapse, as the Questioner complies.

facebook cocaineQ. But wasn’t that over three months ago?

A. Sure it was.  So what?

Q. So why didn’t it solve the problem?

A. Because I was sorely mistaken. Facebook does not require one to know one’s previous password in order to change to a new one.  Sadly enough, I was able to log on again by providing verification through my email address or phone number – without having to know my previous password.

Q. Well then, why did you not simply desist from logging on?

A. Because I decided I needed a personal Facebook in order to be active on a certain Facebook group, and to chat with the woman who admins the group, whom I consider to be a dear friend of mine.

Q. Why couldn’t you chat with her on G-Mail?  On Skype?  Or on Snapchat?  Or KIK?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Can’t you just email her?

A. I’ve sent her scores of emails.  But she never checks her email.

Q. What about calling her on the phone?

A. She doesn’t have a phone.

Q. Do you mean that she only communicates on Facebook?

A. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that.  But she sure only communicates with me on Facebook.  It was different when we lived just around the corner from each other.  But now we’re 900 miles apart.  :(

Q. Are you saying this dear friend of yours forces you to have a Facebook, which you hate, in order to talk to her, whom you love?

A. Something like that.

Q. So how close of a friend is she?

A. That, sir, is a very good question.

The Questioner is silent.

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