It like everything else is…

Alex and Jean Trebek have taken time and money to address a problem in their neighbourhood. The problem was homelessness. Just recently the Trebec center was opened. The center has 107 beds and is a shelter for the unhoused.

Losing a home looks and comes differently for everyone.

  • Economic
  • Health
  • Fanily
  • Addiction
  • Coming out as LGBTQI+

All of the above can be a reason for becoming homeless. Not one person sets out with the intention of not having a home, however the current economic and property system in the United States seems to be designed to generate homelessness. Right now there are about 31 houses that are vacant for every person who needs a home. That number is a little misleading though because of the state of the houses and the unrepaired homes.The more accurate number is 21. California has a population of 151,000 unhoused and the state has 1.2 million empty properties. The issue is not housing it is greed and an economic system keeping people from having a home.

“We all know that homelessness is complicated, There is no single pathway to the streets. There’s no single intervention that ends homelessness. But there is a single remedy and it’s called love. Supporting another is loving another and the transformational power of support will surely be known at this site.

Photo by How Far From Home on
Jean Trebek

Support for our fellow humans is not done through making oursleves wealthy at the cost of others, however making ourselves rich at the cost of others is the cornerstone of the current economic system.

“It isn’t the man who does the work that makes the money. It’s the man who gets other men to do it.”

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegies legacy is a dichotomy of good and evil. Andrew Carnegie killed workers who would not go to work for him. Killing an employee is not an act of love, it is of course evil. Later in life Carnegie gave away all his money. Building society, for 25 years Carnegie built libraries schools and fought to end imperialism. A man who benefited greatly from capitalism and imperialism fought to end all and even wrote an essay about this. In his essay on wealth Carnegie argued against the wealth gap. The gospel on wealth has made a huge impact on philanthropy and that is a great thing however it has done little to address the reasons for the welath gap.

Why should one person make 1.7 % of the salary of their employer. The median Amazon employee pay last year was 30,000 dollars. The CEO’s median income was 1,681,840. That’s right the average employee made 1.7% of the CEO. The CEO did 0 deliveries, folded no boxes, shipped nothing but was rewarded with a million dollar paycheck. This is one scenario in the United States among many. The average CEO makes 351 times more than the average employee! The wealth gap is alive and well.

Jobs are the vehicles in the United States that should lift us out of poverty and homelessness however 40 % of the homeless have jobs in the United States. Because of the design of the system, with wealth concentrated at the top the United States is becoming a nation of working homeless and sick people.

At the start of his essay on wealth Carnegie mentions how the native Americans did not have a wealth gap, but the wealth gap was a good thing because it gave the poor something to aspire too however since the time of the essay we see that 99% percent of people in the United States will never be wealthy. The truth is without the poor their can not be any rich people. This was what was left out of the essay that Carnegie wrote.

What is the answer then? how do we help the homeless and poor? Love. That is it plan and simple we must actively love each other and help each other. With love a system like the current capitalism would not last very long. Love would been dividing resources equitably amongst our fellow humans. Love would mean that abandoned and empty homes would be full of people, even if the people cant afford the rent. Love would not have eviction notices or terminations in it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love works too. It really does.

Freedom and the United States of America

There was a book I read that really resonated with me. The book was titled “Abundance” and was written by Jakob Guanzon. The book told the anxiety ridden story of a father and son living in a pick up truck. I was turned onto the book after hearing the author in an interview explain his motivation to write the book. The author was working as a day laborer on construction projects while attending college. The author wondered what the lives of those laborers looked like when they left the job site and went “home”.

For me the book shined a light on the American dream versus the reality. There are at lest 12 million children a day that live in food insecure homes in the United States of America. These children are part of families that are not living the American dream. The American dream is a way of living that involves opportunity and equality and happiness. Many community members are living in an American nightmare though ripe with no opportunity, inequity and unfortunate situations (like no access to food).

The American dream does not match the American reality for a majority of Americans. Soon in the United States it will be time to vote and every citizen should get out there and vote. I myself will vote for the person that has a plan to make the American dream a reality for all of us not just themselves. Far too often we vote for the politician that supports our personal agenda and forget that we are part of a community.

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.

The Good Earth -Pearl Buck

When you vote go ahead and vote for those that will feed the 12 million children. When you vote go ahead and vote for the politician that will work to make the American reality look like the American dream for everyone in the country and on the Earth.

What matters the Most

Me my wife and kids (I almost typed “My Wife and KIds” there, man I loved that show) worked in our church’s soup kitchen for about 8 years. I loved seeing and helping people my wife loved feeding people and the kids were young enough that they still did as they were told.

Working in the soup kitchen was strange. We would check the supplies and if needed head out to a grocery store and purchase supplies. The grocery store was full of food. The grocery store has always been full of food even at the height of the pandemic very few food items at our local grocery store went un stocked. That abundance seems to be the evidence for success of the United States social system. Here is an interesting article comparing the shopping differences in different countries. The grocery stores in the United States are amazing we do not seem to be bound by geography or season, you can get food from all around the world in and out of the season that the food is grown in. I am no longer working in the soup kitchen however I enjoy cooking at the house and it is not uncommon for me to find a recipe online travel to my local grocery store and get the ingredients I need to prepare the food, no matter what time of the year it is.

After picking up all the needed supplies we would go back to the kitchen and start cooking. Quick note here, most of the supplies we picked up were perishables, the community and church patrons have been very generous and we always had supplies on hand. As we started cooking and opening up the kitchen to the public folks would poor in. It took time and there were lulls in the customers coming is so my wife and the kids would spend that time playing scrabble of course

May be an image of 1 person

Something that struck me then and I still find startling is the demographics of the hungry in the United States. Most of our customers were children under 16 and adults over the age of 55. So basically people who could not work.

The same system that created the circumstances for the abundance in the grocery store has also created a rather high amount of poor hungry children and senior citizens. Economics is a required class for most in college. When I first got out of the US Army I spent a fair amount of time at the employment office looking for work and speaking with the veterans assistant. When I couldn’t find employment I was told that “it was the economy”. Being the smart alec that I am I asked the assistant to define the economy he couldn’t. The economy is; the resources of a group and how they are managed. That is it simply put it is how we get all that food in the grocery store onto our plates or how it is kept away from our children’s plates. That is the economy and it is not working.

Children are staving while food spoils. Ecological systems collapse and parts of the world become unlivable for humans and almost any animal. I think about the Cedars of Lebanon and their destruction and I see a parallels to the logging that the United States has done out west and now what is left is being destroyed in fire and drought. In Flint Michigan the drinking water was poisoned and there are cities in Pennsylvania that people cannot live in and have fires that have been burning for over 50 years.

I know todays post seems like a bummer and it can be easy to dismiss it all by saying I am not responsible for the hungry children because they are not my kids and I go to work and kill myself everyday to make sure my kids are not hungry. What happens when you can no longer kill yourself? Will you be at the soup kitchen? Many of the retired soup kitchen customers had family. I know because they would show up when tragedy struck for the customer. We like to believe as parents that our children would not abandon us but what if our children are killing themselves to provide for their children and do not have the bandwidth for us. Well then we can dismiss the system with our 401k’s pension plans and medicare right? I have seen story after story of cases were 401ks and pension plans have been robbed and where medicare has not covered the bills. I am not trying to scare anyone but I am beginning to frighten myself. My dad is preparing for retirement right now and I cannot imagine what his anxiety level looks like. Dad and mom worked ungodly hours to take care of me and my sisters for years. Me and the family recycle and I find it tempting to dismiss the ecological disasters with the idea that we recycle so we are not adding to the problem but aren’t we?

See there is a difference in thoughts and idea here. The current economic system in most of the world involves induvial rights and freedoms and no responsibility. Instead of being responsible for our success and our families success the attitude has to change to a sense of obligation for everyone and everything. Here in the United States we are taught that, we are born with rights. In the document that declared Independence from the Monarchy the founding fathers spoke highly about the rights. The founding fathers called them Unalienable. Unalienable means that the rights are impossible to take away or give up. They say that in mans creation they are endowed the rights by the creator but these rights cost something don’t they? The rights are LIfe, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Life requires food and our children are not getting food. Liberty requires freedom and in the United States for every 100 000 people there are 655 that are incarcerated. Happiness is a hard one isn’t it. “Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them” – Tolstoy. It is hard to define and hard to be happy with the current world state. How can we take solace in the poverty, pestilence and war?

Working at the soup kitchen would seem depressing seeing hungry kids and senior citizens should have really bummed me out but it didn’t. I am not cold and unfeeling that is not why it didn’t bum me out. I got to connect with these folks, by talking and playing board games and on nights when me and the wife cooked enough eating with them.

That community helped me realize the major problem with society. We think about rights instead of obligations. Instead of protecting everyone and everything we decide to take care of our rights and our family rights. This thinking causes stockpiling and the few times grocery stores have ran out of food was do to families buying more supplies than they needed.

It is fear and lack of knowledge that keep us away from our obligations. You have an obligation to humanity and the world you live in. We have to take care of each other and the world. When I think of obligation I think of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We are commanded in the Christian religion and every religion to Love each other and we have that definition for love. This is what we should live by. Love should enforce our sense of community and obligation to others.

I am not sure about you but freedoms and rights give me little solace with the current state of the world but love and the power of love… That is my happy place. Love is the only hope I see for my children and it is the only path that has seemed to work in the past.