Thoughts on poverty and homelessness in the U.S.A.

Archive for January, 2014

“Help! Help! I’m drowning. Please, please, someone help me!”

He cried out as loudly as he could, given the circumstances. His body was rapidly getting weak, and that was his last real cry. His arms flailing high into the air, he was desperately searching for something to hold onto–a tree branch, a rock, something tangible. But…there was nothing. “Please help,” he attempted weakly. But it was only the sound of the voice in his head. His vocal cords had stopped functioning. There wasn’t enough breath to get the words out into the air.

Now, he was sinking. Soon his flailing arms and outspoken voice would be submerged beneath the water, along with the rest of him.

Who would have thought that something as harmless, as ubiquitous and gentle as water could be such a strong killer? How he had underestimated the power of this translucent, flowing stream that runs through all things? In the past he would drink it or sit beside it as it trickled lightly over the rocks. There he would meditate to the soothing sound of running water. He thought water was a healer, that demons couldn’t cross it, that beside water he would always be safe and sound. And now, it was killing him.

“Save me, someone, please. Oh, please, please help!” he thought he cried out. But actually he didn’t. At this point he’d gone delirious and the current was pulling him in.

It’s not as though he was alone, mind you. People heard his cries, watched his tears drop from his once rugged, impenetrable eyes then drop into the river that was killing him. “Oh! Another whiner!”they lamented. “Some people are so negative. All they do is complain. What did he do to get himself into that situation in the first place? I’m not stupid enough to go near the river.”

And the sounds of his crying irritated them so. And so they closed their windows, their doors, pulled down their shades, turned up the music to drown out the sound of his drowning and just tried to take their minds off of his incessant crying.

It was just so annoying to hear him complain about suffering!

But there was one man who approached this dying soul. Watching him drown, he dared not risk his own life to try to rescue him, especially since it was his own fault, after all, for approaching the water in the first place. But he wanted to show the world what a nice man he was, that he was a caring individual. He was the man who built this river, you see, and he wanted people to know that he never intended for anyone to drown in it. He resisted strongly any efforts to study the water’s current, insisting it was completely safe. It was safe. It was safe. It was safe. After all, it was his river, so of course it was perfect. No one could stop him from having his river. And if anyone dared go near his river and fell in… Well, some people just make bad choices.

Still, he didn’t want anyone to think he, the creator/owner of this river didn’t care. He gave to charity, after all. And so he offered the drowning victim a pair of shoes. “Here you are, sir. I’ll help you. A pair of shoes is all you need.”

And he dropped the pair of shoes by the side of the river not too far from the spot where the drowning man’s arms had reached out for help. But it was too late to donate shoes to a drowning man. The current was just too strong. No one could guess how fast it was moving. That would take some investigation, and, frankly, no one was up to that. People are busy these days, you see.

So needless to say, the current was very, very strong. Suddenly, it yanked at the drowning man’s feet and thrust him downward to the bottom of the river, silencing him forever. The man felt the rocks tear at his skin as he was pulled downward. He would no longer cry or struggle–even if he were able, for he no longer wanted to live. Now, he hoped for death. Would it please happen quickly? The pain was intense, swift, sudden. He would never ask for help again. But the pain has stopped.

He was dead.

Whew. What a relief to all around him. They need not hear his cries any longer. The neighbors could open their windows at last. And turn down that loud music! Now they could rest in peace. The philanthropist picked up the shoes when he saw the man disappear under the sea. He would donate them to another charity. Perhaps another victim would be more grateful. Next time he’ll focus on suffering children, as adults are a waste of time. They just don’t try hard enough to rescue themselves. And they never seem to appreciate what you do for them.

Meanwhile, the definition of “drown,” according to “The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,” 4th edition, remains available (at least as of this writing) to the general public, for all to see. Thus far, no one from the US government, a.k.a. corporate America, has tried to censor, redact, or “drown” its definition. In fact, anyone may view it on display in practically all English dictionaries which may be accessed free of charge in public libraries (still available, even to poor people, and even in the USA.) Yes, the word “drown” is alive and well. It shall not be suppressed! (Perhaps because we need it so badly.)

drown — ” 1. to kill by submerging and suffocating in water or another liquid…

2. to drench thoroughly or cover with or as if with a liquid…

3. to deaden one’s awareness of…

4. to muffle or mask (a sound) by a louder sound…”

And so this poor man drowned, but it wasn’t the water that killed him…

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The rich have the means to get mean and meaner… “the Rich are Getting Mean” revisited

I’d written in the past about a poor, struggling man I’d met in a city building. Both of us were there to resolve tickets we’d received by law enforcement, essentially, for being poor. What I mean is, it’s a crime in the US to be poor. Poor people seem to acquire all sorts of legal problems. In Southern California, for example, jaywalking is a serious crime. Mostly only poor people walk over there, of course. And if you can’t afford to pay the jaywalking ticket…well, you can end up in the slammer. Yep, people go to jail for crossing the street in California. I kid you not! A person’s entire life can be ruined by a single act of crossing a street when the walk signal (light flashes an image of a little androgynous human) stops flashing.

http://www.thestreetspirit.org/Dec2006/criminal.htm

But I told myself this blog would be extremely short. So here goes: My little experiment in writing more frequently but shortening the size of each entry…

This poor unfortunate man I’d met had serious health problems and was collecting disability. He was suffering quite a bit and struggling to pay his medical bills. “The rich are getting mean,” he lamented as we’d gotten into a discussion about the social injustice of our needing to constantly defend ourselves legally. (It’s as though we have to defend our very existence. Do the rich want us dead? Why do they hate us so much?) There’s always some ticket to pay, some ordinance or law to be violated, when you’re poor.  My car was ticketed and I had to go to court to defend myself for driving such an old, beat up used car. So I dropped my car off to a junkyard and proceeded to watch my life fall apart, as it was nearly impossible to find a decent job without a car. When I went to court, I had to show proof that I’d given up my car. I wanted to say, “I’m sorry I’d been driving such a stinky car and that it was polluting your fine California air. But I’d drive a much nicer and less stinky car if I could afford it. Really, I would.” But instead, I showed them the proof that I was carless and then began risking getting mugged by taking Southern California’s wonderful and exciting (nearly was assaulted several times!) “public” transportation system. Once I no longer had a car, I found that opportunities diminished for me in so many ways. People looked down on me because they saw me–horror of horrors!–walking in LA.  Basically, a lot of people didn’t want to be my friend. I couldn’t socialize with them anymore as I had no way of getting to the places where they went. (Unless, of course, a friend offered to give me a ride, but that would mean giving, helping, assisting another human being. But, of course, that would involve socialism and most of my friends were against socialism, so they wouldn’t dare help me in any way. I’m very grateful for that, though, because it gave me a chance to see what kind of people they really were. You don’t always get that chance when you have a lot of money and your life is going well.) And, as I said, job opportunities were very limited for me once I had no transportation. Most available jobs these days are not on the bus line and as public transportation increasing gets cut, that problem is increasing. (Hmm… so I wonder how it benefits society to force poor people to give up their cars when their cars don’t meet the strict environmental inspection standards set up by wealthy bureaucrats? But then I’m always wondering how it benefits society to allow the government and big banks to take away people’s homes just because people can’t afford to pay their bills. Yes, people should pay their bills but…do we really want to take away people’s homes and create a new population of homeless people?)

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/fr/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice.html

(Okay, I’ve tried to embed the above video of Bryan Stevenson’s talk, but, for some strange reason, it won’t embed on this site. Every time I type in the code, it disappears once I save this blog. Yep, I type it in, hit “save” then open up the blog and everything I typed is gone.  This happened with my previous blog entry also. As you can see, though, the other videos embedded just fine.  Not sure what’s going on here.  A virus on my computer perhaps? A glitch on WordPress? Perhaps it’s the NSA virus? Anyhow, it’s odd. But I’ve got the URL typed up there, so if you’d like to view this wonderful video about poverty and crime, please click on that link.)

But this doesn’t affect the rich or even much of the middle class, so why do I even bring this up?  Yes, the rich are getting  mean, but so, oddly enough, are the middle class. They may not be the so-called “one percent” but they sure do think they’re better when they live in their gated communities far, far away from the riff raff, i.e., the poor.

And yet, perhaps ironically, the word “mean” as a noun refers to money, property or wealth. Yes, the rich have the means to be mean.

( Above video is from youtube.com/user/KafkaWinstonWorld )

So here it is–my first blog of the year!  And an attempt to make it a short blog entry.  Okay, I didn’t do as well on that as I’d hoped, but I’m getting there…  😉

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/149094/february-11-2008/philip-zimbardo

 

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