Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Prison of Freedom

I've been lately thinking about homelessness as freedom, but a freedom one is forced to partake in. Sure, no one can tell you what to do or what to do with your money and there are fewer responsibilities, but almost every homeless person I know would be happy to limit their freedom some if only they could have a job or a place to store their stuff, or the chance to see their children. But, more often than not, they aren't given the choice to limit their freedom so they can experience more of what they want in their lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Life On Another Planet

Good news for the Charismaniacs! It’s your day!

Yep, see, I’m a Charismaniac too. This doesn’t mean that I yell and scream in services ( I don’t), nor that I’m a “dancer before the Lord” (I’m not) nor that I announce in public “thus saith the Lord” (well, I do this very rarely, but don’t hold it against me, please). The difference between Charismatics and non-Chrarismatics is that the non-Chrarismatic is content with the Bible and their worship services and their ethical standard. The Charismatic is not. The Charismatic wants to see God at work through miracles, power and direct speech. This doesn’t mean that the Charismatic neglects the Bible or ethics—not at all! But they want understanding and life and love directly from God’s power, experienced in their lives.

Now, back to our story. For as long as I have been a Christian, I have believed that God could speak to those who believed in Jesus. Why not? He spoke to the people in the Bible, when He wanted to, so why not now? So I just expected that God would speak to me. Perhaps that was arrogance on my part, assuming that God would WANT to speak to me, but, hey, I was a teenager. Yes, God made the world, but it revolves around ME. Anyway, I knew that if I asked God something, he would answer. So I knew that I was going to participate in missions—cross-cultural ministry in a country not my own. So I contacted a youth missions group called YWAM (the organization my friend and I wanted to join when we were sixteen) and said, “Where are you located?” They sent me a list of all of their bases, all over the world.

So I looked them over and told God—“God, I’m going to one of these places. I’ve chosen either Cyprus, India or Hong Kong. Which one of these do you want me to go to?” I’m sure that God remembered that I was only nineteen and so he didn’t project me into space in millions of unconnected particles. God, quite politely, (probably sniggering behind his omnipotent hand) answered, “India.” So it was decided, I thought. I’m going to India.

Of course, I had no money to do this or any experience of travelling solo outside of Southern California, but my ignorant arrogance knew no bounds. (I haven’t really changed much in this regard, although I consider myself to be less ignorant) I sent an application to Madras, India, and they wrote me back to send it to Calcutta, for they weren’t accepting foreigners. So I sent it to Calcutta so that I might be accepted to their six month discipleship school beginning in July. Meanwhile, I got a passport and asked for funds. Between my church and my father—who, amazingly, and perhaps naively, offered to pay for my airfare to Calcutta—my expenses were taken care of.

I was fully confident that I would be accepted by the school. As July loomed closer, however, my brick wall of assurance began to crack. By the end of June, the holes were big enough to drive a herd of elephants through it. By July 1, the first day of the school in India, I had almost put it out of my mind. Of course, that was the day my letter of acceptance arrived.

I spent about a half hour pacing, attempting to make a decision—I was actually rebuilding my wall of confidence, bricks, mortar and all. By the next day, my mother in tears, I was on a flight to San Francisco to obtain an Indian visa at the Embassy there (they told me it would take a week, but I sat in their office for a full working day and they gave me the visa just to get rid of me), and in less than five days after the letter arrived, I sat in Bangkok, Thailand. The telegram I had sent the folks in Calcutta said that I would arrive on Saturday. But the Calcutta airport was flooded, so I stayed overnight in a plush hotel (airline’s expense!) and slept away my jet lag. The next day I arrived in Dum Dum Airport (yes, that’s really the name of the airport in Calcutta—and they didn’t have a single lollipop!) and waltzed through immigration and customs only to find no one waiting for me.

Well, I figured, maybe they didn’t know when the flight was going to arrive, since it was late. No problem, I will find them. The only address I had was “Mission Compound, Uluberia, West Bengal”. No problem, I just walked up to a taxi and asked, “Can you get me to Uluberia?” He looked at me questioningly, and I repeated “Uluberia” about twenty more times and then he understood. “OK. Yes. OK.” He directed me to put my luggage into the taxi then turned around to confer with the other taxi drivers for about fifteen minutes. After some hand waving and writing of notes, I realized that my chosen taxi driver had no idea where Uluberia was. But it looked like he was getting directions. And sure enough, after about two and a half hours, ten close calls with buses coming from the opposite direction, driving into a dark, mostly deserted town, asking for directions, we arrived.

The mission compound was closed. The tall metal gate was locked and the taxi driver pounded on it. The night guard told us the compound was closed. I said they were expecting me (I hoped) and the guard went in to check. About ten minutes later, I hear a male voice call out in American English, “Are you Steve Kimes?” After spending the minutes trying to discern how I and my luggage were going to spend the night leaning on the gate, I said in relief that I was. “We were just praying for you. We just received your telegram tonight. We thought you were lost in Calcutta.” I said “No problem. I took a taxi.” “A taxi!” he exclaimed. “No one’s taken a taxi from Calcutta to Uluberia before!” I always seem to be first to do things.

After spending a while in Uluberia and Calcutta, I realized that I had not arrived in another country, but another planet. Moments after my arrival at the compound and I mentioned my need to go to the bathroom, I was motioned to a small room with a hole in the floor. I wasn’t sure what to do with that hole, and the bricks on either side didn’t seem to help in sitting on it. Most people there spoke some version of English, except for my roommate who only spoke Napali (being from Napal, I guess that would make sense). Everyone there ate enormous helpings of rice with some amounts of either dal or curry, neither of which I found palatable—okay, it was just about impossible for me to eat, but I learned because I soon found that otherwise my diet would consist exclusively of rice of a quantity that were it water I would have drowned. Desperate for Western food, I scourged Calcutta for months, eating spaghetti that tasted like Chinese food and a “cheeseburger” that consisted of a half-inch slab of strange-tasting cheese between two slices of bread.

Part of my learning process was having my passport and traveler’s cheques stolen. To replace these, I spent more time in Calcutta, dealing with the various bureaucratic institutions of India, from police stations to banks to embassies.

But a huge part of my experience was dealing with the beggars and poor of Calcutta. After spending a bit of time there (outside the airport), it is impossible not to notice the poor. For one thing, if you go there as a Westerner, you can almost see the dollar signs roll up in their eyes like in a cartoon. Once they see you, they won’t let you go. I had one woman follow me for a half mile, yelling something incoherent (to me), then stand outside the place I was eating for a half hour, only to yell at me again when I stepped outside. (Although this was my experience in 1985, my more recent visit to Calcutta was nothing like this). As a beggar, she was “making her own luck” I suppose. And, as an unjust judge of old, I finally gave her something just to get some peace. Don’t be fooled, blackmail works.

But the beggars weren’t the only sign of poverty. Millions of people daily washed themselves and their clothes in public at the water pumps. Of the twelve million people in the city at the time, a million of them lived on the street. Thousands would scour the already picked through piles of garbage on the street. Poverty and homelessness wasn’t just “an issue” in Calcutta, but it was a slap in the face insisting upon attention from every person who lived and visited the city.

For me, though, while I was there, the poverty didn’t stir up wells of compassion that were full to the brim. Poverty was just a problem that I had to deal with quickly, and ignore just as quickly so I could get on with my business, whatever that business happened to be. Dealing with poverty wasn’t a religious deed or dealing with my pangs of guilt—it was a matter of getting it out of my face so I could deal with my real life. Every time I entered Howrah Station (the main train station of Calcutta) I was constantly tempted to take a handful of almost worthless coins and pitch them behind me so that the group of child beggars would just get out of my way and stop touching me, stop staring at me with puppy-dog eyes that quickly turn to knowing glances after money was given.

This isn’t to say I didn’t feel pity at all. That emotion, though rarely experienced, did creep up on me as I heard the Dickensian plight of many of these child beggars: These children were often kidnapped from other cities in India from their parents, to other towns, and young enough that they could not find their way home on their own. They were forced by their captors to beg on the streets, for the cute and pitiable make much money. Should they not bring in enough money that day, they are beaten and not given food. If the children are not wise enough to run away on their own, and their captors realize that they aren’t making as much money as they “should”, then an arm or a leg would be hacked off, in the hopes to make them more “pitiable”. After they are old and ugly enough to not even make enough for themselves to live on, then they are thrown out of their captor’s house, and they beg on their own—too crippled to work, too ignorant to do anything else but beg.

This was told to me to let me know that I shouldn’t give to the child beggars, because the money just goes to these super villain captors. But does this mean I shouldn’t give to the children? Does this mean they should be beaten each night and starved? I said that I just give them money to get them out of my way. My tutor explained the situation to me again, as if I didn’t understand what the money was going to. No, I understood. What he didn’t understand is the difference between us: he was Indian, and not especially wealthy. He was ignorable. I, however, with my white-white hands and blonde hair and blue jeans and French hat—I was the epitome of wealth. These beggars would rarely see such an ideal stereotype of Western wealth. There I was, the god of Rich Boys, incarnated and walking among them and they were damned if I and the salvation I represented just walked by them and ignored their plight.

By the end of the first three months there, my wealth was drained—I had nothing left. Not giving to beggars, mostly, but giving gifts to those of moderate wealth who were my friends at the compound. Giving myself restaurant food, when cheaper food was available. Attempting to gain the passport and money I had lost.

Eventually I traveled to Bangladesh—East Bengal—and learned of their poverty, although I saw little of it. The poverty there wasn’t urban as much as rural, and I stayed mostly in the cities, praying, evangelizing, learning about Islam. We returned to Calcutta and I assisted in an evangelistic campaign. But I mostly had time to think. I thought of much, of the spiritual need of those around me. But I also couldn’t forget the beggars. For some reason, they stuck in my head. They still stick in my head, today.

At the time, as part of my young aspirations, I fancied myself a poet/songwriter. They stunk, of course, and I think I suspected this, for I almost never showed them to anyone. I had done enough reading of Emily Dickenson and T.S. Eliot to know what real poetry sounded like, and I didn’t have the muse’s gift. But just before I left Calcutta, I wrote a song trying to voice what that beggar woman yelling at me was saying:

Don’t turn your eyes from me, don’t turn away
I see the wealth you hide within, share it I pray.
You don’t have to squeeze my hand—you know I am poor.
I only want a little, I don’t ask you for more.
My clothes tattered, my flesh torn, flies fill my face.
You reason I’m unworthy of you—but I need your grace.
Your wealth abounds and begs release, please heal my sore
Your pockets full, yet sown with greed—do you need it more?

Don’t give me pictures from your cameras, movies nor magazines.
You have the life that I need to live. Give me bread, don’t give me jeans.
You turn away from my sadness, but what would Jesus do?
Would he give me dust and say “go away”, or heal me and say “be true”?

Through a customs error (on my part) I ended up spending a week in Delhi that I did not expect. This allowed me with ample time to meditate on my experiences as a young man in India. I thought about wanting to go home, about the differences between home and India, about the warmth and friendship I had experienced. And I thought about the beggars and garbage-pickers in Calcutta. In the Delhi airport, I met a man with a slight Southern accent and a large ten-gallon hat, who felt that it was his right to inform me of how idiotic he felt India was, from how they went to the bathroom, to how the people smelled. I was disgusted and found another seat.
I arrived back home the day after Christmas, after spending my Christmas on three planes. I was glad to come back the day after “present-day” for I don’t think I could have faced the orgy of wrapping paper and greed. I received some few presents—clothes, and some cash. But I realized I wouldn’t receive much, for my gift was going to India. But I don’t think my parents realized what such a gift would mean. It wasn’t just a toy that one plays with a couple days and then casts away. Rather, my experience in India was a jewel covered in rock and mud that required much polishing and scraping to discover the wealth that was truly underneath it.

Being Christmas, the tree was up and trimmed beautifully and huge plates of leftover food was available, as well as candy dished filled with peanut M&Ms (as a treat I would occasionally purchase myself a bar of Cadbury chocolate in Howrah Station). I remembered the years of Christmas’ I had received enormous amounts of gifts, and most of these gifts had been trashed or wasted or ignored. I remembered my extended family and their gorging of food and the fact that the majority of excess weight gained was due just to overeating. That night, as laid on my bed three feet off of the ground, with a padded comforter over me, I turned my well trained righteous prig eye on myself. Remembering the beggars and the garbage-pickers. And I wept.

A Stranglely Familiar Parable

Once there was a good Christian man who was wealthy. He would read his Bible daily, praise God every Sunday and he treated his family well. Every day he would walk to his office from his house. One day, as he was walking to his office, he saw a man in disheveled, dirty clothes, holding a sign which said, “Homeless—anything will help.” The disheveled man looked, pleading with the Christian with his eyes. The Christian turned his head, saying to himself, “He needs to get a job instead of bothering good people on the street.” The next day the Christian saw a filthy woman holding a sign which said, “Pregnant and homeless, please help.” She asked him, “Could you spare a few dollars so I could get a motel room,” he replied, “Isn’t there a shelter you could go to?” And he passed her by. The next day the Christian saw a man with brown skin and unkempt hair sitting on the sidewalk with one leg missing. The man asked with a deep accent, “Could you please assist me in any way?” The Christian became upset with all of these interruptions of his pleasant morning meditation, and he yelled, “Can’t you people just leave me alone? Why don’t you just go back where you came from?”
As he walked into his office on that third day, the Christian had a heart attack and died. The angels picked him up and delivered him immediately (or so it seemed to him) to the Father for judgment. The Father looked down at him and said, “I sent you three of my angels, to see how you would respond to them. I have brought them here to witness to your action.” The first angel, no longer disheveled, but wearing white robes said, “This Christian refused to help me.” The second angel, no longer dirty, said, “He told me to find a shelter, but offered no help.” The third angel, with his leg fully intact, said, “This Christian told me to go back where I came from. So I am here. He refused to help me.” The Father looked at the man and judged: “You have done evil to your brothers and sisters. I gave you many blessings, and you refused to help those in need. You will be punished eternally.”
As the enforcement officers came to take the Christian away, he called to the Father, “But Lord, Lord—what about my family? Shouldn’t they be given a chance? Please send one of these angels to them to explain to them their sin so they can repent.” The Father replied, “Do they not read my Word daily? If they ignore the one who has been risen from the dead, they will not listen to an angel.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Being Missional in Congregations

For us to be missional, we need to encourage missional church leaders. The average pew-warmer, no matter how many sermons on outreach they hear, will only be involved with people outside of their comfort zone on occassion, and still be ill-equipped to know how to speak Christ cross-sub-culturally.

So we need to develop missional leaders. Yet, in my experience, the established church is focused on developing what they already have, to replicate what they consider to be "successful programs." But true outreach is not to reach out to a culture already sturated by some kind of gospel teaching, but to connect with cultures and sub-cultures that are not experiencing the true gospel of Jesus in word and deed.

The middle class Americans already have the Warren- and Hyble-clones. African Americans, both older and newer have their own sub-culture outreaches and churches. And the emerging church is a strong beginning for the up and coming educated class. But there are many sub-cultures in America that aren't being reached effectively. The homeless, for instance, who have many "missions", but few churches. The alternative cultures. And those completely disenchanted by church culture in any form (I saw today a church board which said, "An opportunity for those who are disgusted by church-- every Sunday morning" I laughed to myself because if they were disgusted by church, why do you think they would come into a church building on the standard Christian morning. Cultural assumptions like that are exactly the kind of stuff they are trying to avoid.)

Why don't we have more churches for these folks? For sub-cultures that reject standard church culture altogether? Because the standard church won't pay for missional leaders to do this. Now, I admit that many missional leaders are expecting to be paid full salary for full time work, and given the financial structure of the church, that just won't work. But the church also is unwilling to pay for alternative churches, which will not abide without full church support, both financial and encouragement-wise. Churches are willing to pay for a small "outreach" or "mission", but not accept it as a full, equal church unless they accept the cultural assumptions of the original church.

I recently heard of a church in Seattle who had a pastor couple who was interested in doing outreach to homeless youth. After ten years of "paying thier dues" in the large middle class church, they were finally supported to begin a homeless youth church. With only one condition-- that they do the church plant somewhere other than Seattle. Not because the original church would have competition from the other church (the middle class church would never fully welcome homeless youth), but because they needed some distance between the churches.

I am not faulting the church in Seattle. Actually, it shows some cultural insight that many of us lack (myself included). The alternative cultures, we need to remember, aren't just looking for a new kind of church-- they are rejecting church culture. And this is something that the current parishner can't accept. They can't accept that the songs, service and preaching they are so blessed by actually drive some people away from God. But it is the truth.

How can the church really support true outreach to the lost? How can this be done, given that a missional leader would have to be on both sides of a cultural war, a double agent, so to speak?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Memorial

Ron Ferber was attacked. That is how he felt, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

He was a homeless man who dealt with mental health issues and mostly kept to himself. He dumpster dived for a living, recycling cans and bottles and eating what decent food he could find. He was also a collector of various items that he found. He had one tub full of jewelry he found in dumpsters, another plastic bottle full of bottle caps. Another container was full of old coins. He would take whatever others thought were worthless, collect them and protect them. Once a container was full, he dug a hole near his camp and buried it.

He suffered the indignities of all the homeless. There are always difficulties finding a safe and clean place to go to the bathroom. Some would yell at him for being in or close to a dumpster, and he would move on. Some would look at his obvious homeless attire and state of hygine and tell him to get a job. All of this bothered him, but there was one indignity that he couldn't abide: harrasement of the police.

As far as Ron was concerned, he shouldn't have to be approached by the police at all. First of all, he was a citizen of the U.S. Secondly, he was law-abiding. He didn't break in anything to steal, most of the dumpsters he went into he had permission to go in. He kept to himself, and bothered no one who didn't bother him. But the police would seek him out. They would ask for his I.D. and ask him questions as if they assumed he was a criminal whom they had to keep track of. Perhaps he could go a month without them stopping him and putting him through the ritual of humiliation, but they would always find him again.

He couldn't stand it. He couldn't live with it. After one time of being questioned by the police, he announced, "The next time the police question me, I'm going to kill myself!"

The next time he was found, he was dead in his sleeping bag in the midst of his camp.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story of Ron Ferber.

One of Ron's aquaintences found Ron, dead. He wanted Ron's body to be treated with respect and buried, but he feared the police too much to call 911 for the authorities to care for his body. So the body was left.

Rumors among a few people spread that a body was lying there, just a stone's throw from a busy street in Gresham. A couple of meth addicts, housed in downtown Gresham, decided to check it out. Just for fun, they brought a video camera. After they found the body, they immediately opened his mouth and found what they were looking for-- fillings. They took a pair of pliers and pulled out all the teeth with fillings, videotaping the whole scene, enjoying themselves greatly. They sold the fillings for some twenty bucks, enough for a single hit of dope.

They had so much fun doing this illicit deed that they couldn't keep it to themselves. So every time someone came to visit them, they would sit the person down and show them the videotape, laughing all the while. Finally, one person was so disgusted with the abuse of a corpse, with the disrespect of a human being, he decided to do something about it. Again, he didn't want to get too involved himself. He was homeless and did not want any contact with the police. So he came to my house and told me about it, hoping that I would have compassion for this poor man.

That very Sunday afternoon, he and I went to the body. I wanted to see the body before I called it in to make sure that it wasn't just a rumor. I took a flashlight and peered into the wood box that Ron called his home. Outside the box, the smell wasn't as bad as I expected. As I looked in, I couldn't see much at first. Just a sleeping bag and a rotton banana resting on it. Then I looked closer. That was not a banana, that was his arm, shriveled and darkened by heat. I pulled the bag down a bit and flashed the light to his face. It was all decayed, the flesh mostly gone, eaten by various animals over the months he had laid there.

I backed away from the camp and called 911. The police came, and the coroners. I left just as the news crew arrived-- it must have been a slow news day for them to have bothered covering a dead homeless man discovered in the brush. Of course, after the news of the corpse abuse came out, there was certainly something newsworthy about that. Each of the corpse abusers received a few month in jail for their fun.

But why was Ron put in that situation? Because he was homeless. If he were not homeless, then the police wouldn't have bothered with a man who prefered to keep to himself. If he were not homeless, he would have had the dignity to not commit suicide. Were he not homeless, the body would have been disposed of immediately, with dignity. If he were not homeless, he wouldn't have been seen as a means of income, a thing to be played with.

The question I have is not how could we have helped Ron not be homeless so that he could have avoided such indignities. Rather, I am asking why our society feels it necessary to dehumanize the homeless to such a degree that anyone could think that treating the homeless in this way-- with humiliation, with abuse, with neglect--would be acceptable.

Should any human being be treated in this way? If not, then why do we allow the homeless to be dehumanized to such a degree during their life so that some can feel right to treat them with humiliation after their death? What caused this abuse? The desire for drugs? The treatment by the police? Or the attitude of society as a whole about the homeless?

Let's face facts: None of us would want to be treated like we treat the homeless. None of us would want our children or parents treated this humiliation. None of us would want our friends to be seen as unworthy of food or a decent place to go to the bathroom. So why should we allow the homeless to be treated this way? And what can be done to deliver other Ron Ferbers from a cycle of indignity and suicide?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"To Be Loved"

Excellent video on the homeless shot in Philedelphia. Only 12 minutes and has a good song by Peter Gabriel:

Discussion on healthcare

Unfortunately, Bono was right about the way things are for many Americans these days, when he sang, “The rich stay healthy, the sick stay poor.”


I don’t think it is the state’s job to help anyone. They are to prevent harm, to protect rights, and to enforce contracts. But not help the needy. That is the unique and exclusive responsibility of the church.
Is a direct benefit better than an indirect benefit? Necessarily?
I am against regulation and oversight because I am against the existence of a pagan institution holding the authority to oversee or regulate, and I see no reason to believe why such a regulatory institution would have incentives more correctly aligned with consumers than insurers Insurance companies face more immediate feedback from consumers than regulatory agencies do, and have incentives to lower costs and make processes more efficient, while regulatory agencies have incentive for spending and expanding their budgets.
Unfortunately, Bono is wrong, because only a very small percentage of the poor remain poor for a significant length of time in relatively free economies. Everywhere we find poverty we will also find privileged individuals protecting their privilege.
Nathanael Snow

Bono’s not wrong. Although in that song (”Crumbs Under the Table”) he was specifically speaking of developing countries, the quote could just as well have been talking about the U.S.

I work among homeless folks. About one tenth of all people in the US are under the poverty line. And about one tenth of those folks will spend time on the street each year. Many of them spend all of there time there. And of those who are on the street, 55% have no kind of health insurance, as opposed to 15% of the rest of the population. I have personally seen two people die because they were given serious hospital care and then released to go back and live on the street or in a shelter.

“Free” economies have their scapegoats. The way of the world is that if someone is to have success and health then someone else must do without.

May the kingdom come.

Steve K

“Opening the free market I highly doubt will fix this, since a free, open market in every other sector has led to monopoly and higher costs.”

The free market tends to lower prices. Governmental intrusion almost always raises it.

Every working American in this country owes the Federal Government $405,000 dollars. The country is 9 TRILLION dollars in debt. Who is going to pay for this “universal health care”?

“About one tenth of all people in the US are under the poverty line.”

What is poverty? People in third world countries build boats out of tires to become this nation’s poor. No one starves to death in America.

(Almost) no one starves to death in America, it is true.

But when people are treated as less than human because of the economic disparity, is that not poverty?

Amartya Sen, a Nobel-prize winning economist, said, “Poverty is primarily sociological, not economic.” In other words, when people outcast you because of your economic lack, that is what poverty is.

There are more ways to die than simply starvation.

A homeless man I was aquainted with was constantly being stopped by the police and harrased. He hated these stops to such a degree that he often reponded dramatically to them and so the stops increased. Finally, he made a general announcment, “The next time the police harass me, I will kill myself.” Which is exactly what he did.

But the story doesn’t end there. A few folks on the street knew that his body was in his old camp, but were afraid to contact the police, so they let the body stay. Soon a couple of housed men heard about the body, so they found the camp and pulled the old man’s teeth so they could sell the fillings. They were so pleased with this that they filmed themselves abusing this man’s body, and showed it to everyone who came over to their house.

Finally a homeless man couldn’t stand the disrespect the old man was receiving and so he came to me, knowing that I would have no fear of calling the police. By the time I found the body and called 911 about it, the man had been in his camp for six months, through the summer heat and his arm looked like an overripe banana and the flesh of his face had been chewed off by animals.

There is more than one way to be poor.

Isn’t it poor to have a hospital reject you for treatment because they suspect (without proof) that you are a drug addict or an alcoholic?

Isn’t it poor to have frostbite on your feet because you won’t be treated for your oxygen deprivation in freezing temperatures?

Isn’t it poor to be stopped by the police every time you are in city limits, no because you do or do not have a house, but simply because you look homeless?

Isn’t it poor to stand for your religious convictions and immediately be taken away from your church and all of your friends for six months while you are committed to a state hospital in a trial with no witnesses, no evidence presented?

Isn’t it poor to have to beg for gas or food, only to be treated that you are a criminal?

This and so much more is what my friends on the street face. I could go on. And probably will somewhere else.

But the point I am making is that this is what the people under the poverty line are in danger of– one paycheck, one firing away of. And this is what the homeless face everyday.

So, please, don’t tell me that there is no poverty in America or that conditions aren’t that bad. If there was somewhere for my folks to go, they would collect tires to make boats.

Steve K

Saturday, March 1, 2008