Some weeks ago, I stood in line awaiting check-in at the shelter. This place charges $3 a night. I was holding my money in my hand, and someone playfully tugged at it. I snapped. I said, “You don’t value your life much, do you?”
Minutes later, I explained this to someone else. I said, “Don’t take a man’s last dollar.” “Why not?” he asked. I said, ” ‘Cause that’s the one he’ll die for. That’s the one he’ll kill for.”
Don’t take my last dollar. That’s the one I’ll kill for.
I’ve been on hard times since 2004. If I lose, or am robbed or cheated, of $20 or $50, that’s a pretty significant amount. But it doesn’t hurt all that much if I have more, and know more is coming. However, if I lose, or someone robs or cheats me of my last $1 — that’s the one that really hurts. That’s the one I’ll kill for.
These memories came to me as I reflected on Maggie Fox’s 08/29/2013 article, “Poor people aren’t stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds.”
Continue reading Chaos overwhelms the poor
I included this song in the William Tell Show playlist because it never fails to move me. I think it may be one of the saddest songs ever written.
These days, it has me conflicted.
ADVISORY: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.
Continue reading “Oh Girl”
(Originally published 06/15/13 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reblogged 06/18/14.)
No comment. Read the story.
This is a good thing. Many young men are eager to step up to the plate and, in these circumstances, overcome the disadvantages of their own background.
Give ’em a chance.
We mammals aren’t reptiles.
(Originally published 06/05/13 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reblogged 06/04/14.)
It’s difficult to start this post, as the story’s prone to leave one speechless.
What sort of karma would impel a child to be born into that context?
At the shelter, we’re compelled to attend chapel every night. A different preacher comes each night, in a monthly rotation. These generally disappoint me in their utter failure to speak to the sort of situation in question here. About 40% of the presenters are preoccupied wholly with what will become of your soul when you die; whether you’ll go to heaven or hell; and your need to “believe in Jesus” as the key to salvation. It’s all about a cognitive assent, saying “yes” to a certain set of ideas. There is no presentation of Christianity as a lifestyle, nor any discussion of the role of discipline in following Jesus.
Another 40% of the presenters are preoccupied wholly with obtaining “blessings,” principally by the means of praise: “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” A “blessing” here is always a material, for example monetary, advantage that one has done nothing to earn. It is as if God were some cosmic King Lear jealous for flattery.
Neither group mentions the call to repent, in terms of any need to change one’s ways.
The only hell that concerns me is the living hell that folk create in this life, here and now, for themselves and their community.
Continue reading Carter Scott, Karma and Chaos
A better life is available to you.
If you want it, and will work for it,
you can have it.
I will recite that often on The William Tell Show. It’s the sort of thing one hears from Barack Obama.
Continue reading Hope for black America
With Amy Dickinson’s permission, I am copying here below the whole of her column for today. All three letters touch dramatically on principles I associate with presence, including “Keep the focus on you,” “Mind your own business,” and “Don’t come uninvited.”
DEAR AMY: My fiance’s mother is a monster. He gets upset any time they speak. The latest incident was because he had not been in touch with her since Christmas.
Continue reading Ask Amy: Inflating the drama won’t help fiance deal with mother
The center of the universe is you.
Here and now, this moment, wherever you are — that is the center of the universe, for you.
From this point, you can move in any direction, in any direction. But you can only begin here. You cannot begin from anywhere else.
Continue reading Purification
(Originally published 07/21/12 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reblogged 04/23/14.)
The pigeons. Years ago, when I had an office job downtown, I’d wait for the bus every afternoon on the south side of Baltimore Street one or two blocks east of Charles. Often, someone tossed down several handfuls of torn-up bread for the birds to eat, and I’d have time to watch them.
For the most part, the pigeons acted just as you’d expect: eating together, share and share alike. But I noticed one individual whose conduct was quite different. This guy never picked up any food from the ground. He never seemed to notice any food on the ground. Instead, he’d notice what someone else was eating, and go over and take it away from that person. Time and time again, he did this.
Put this fellow down on top of a pile of food, and he’d starve to death, because he’d never pick up any for himself. Put another pigeon with him, and he’d be OK — taking away what the other one picks up to eat.
How much closer can you get to the way some people act; who will not do anything for themselves, but only take away what someone else has worked for? Can there be a gene for this?
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When I lived in Barclay, I maintained a bird feeder in the back yard — different locations, but always visible from the kitchen window. Two species used to visit the feeder in flocks: sparrows and starlings. There might be fifty sparrows or fifty starlings there at a time.
Continue reading What the little birds told me
This is the third of three posts about entitlement:
07/12 – “Entitlement(s): Attitude and policy”
07/19 – “How I became homeless”
Today – “When needs are met”
I have no trouble sharing my candy, when I have plenty.
Jim Snyder even offers people cigarettes, when he has plenty.
When needs are met, one becomes generous.
Continue reading When needs are met