Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Clean up the Mess, then Give him Water

The TCASK office is in an area of Nashville that attracts a lot of homeless. We are also adjacent to a feeding center, so the concentration is further intensified. Well, a little while back the TCASK staff heard a loud knocking on our office. I ventured outside to see an inebriated homeless man slamming his fists on our stucco walls. I attempted to speak to him, but he was far too drunk.

Defeated, I went inside to resume working. Shortly thereafter, the same fellow decided to shack up in our little front doorway area. It's shaded and it's fairly warm outside so I can understand the allure. Our friend set down a multitude of stuff, e.g., cooler, backpack, boots. I thought nothing of it until I heard our new intern, Jamie, gasp. I looked over to see that the homeless man had depantsed himself and was up against our glass front door.

Two things entered my mind, the first was laughter. This man is drunk and probably mentally ill so there is no reason to be angry. However, I became a little worried as I anticipated him defecating on our front door which would effectively impede our exit from work. As I watched his homeless rear end up against our door I was relieved to see him stop and stumble over to the left side of our door way.

At this point, we gathered one of the fellows that runs the Loaves and Fishes feeding center and he was good in telling our new found friend to wander off somewhere else. It really wasn't too big of a deal, but we did have some work to focus on. About 5 minutes after I saw him wander off, I went outside to deliver some mail and I came about two inches from stepping in a steaming pile of human poo on the left side of our doorway.

After doing my best to clean it up--douse it with water and spray bleach, I went back inside to grab this dehydrated man some water. After giving him water, I came upon a couple realizations and lessons about what had just transpired.

First, being homeless is rough. Can you imagine what it would be like to defecate in public? What happened in this man's life to lead up to this point?

Second, at a recent service we held for an executed man, I heard a Bible verse that I believe applied to what had happened.

You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:39-44)

If someone angers your or does wrong, don't get angry or seek retribution, find a way to make their life better as the Bible teaches us. This world would be a far better place if more people lived by the teachings of that verse.
Comments :
Idealism in action. Unfortunately, Ike, idealism is not always the best from a macro point of view. Homeless people running around defecating are, of course, pitiable. However, the presence of these people make it so women cannot walk freely in areas where they congregate. And kindness to the homeless when they poop on your place of business attracts them.

I used to live in a neighborhood where there was a soup kitchen for the homeless. And one day I was out walking my son down the street. And I ran into the pastor of the church who wanted to tell me about how he was doing God's work etc. I asked him what effect having all these drug addicts etc. congregate had on the children in the neighborhood. Could a mother and child walk down the street past 50-60 homeless men without fear? It was an interesting conversation. He just didn't get that his kindness (and I have no doubt that he was acting out of pure motives) imposed things on mothers and children.

It was easy for him to feel good about himself, despite the fact that he brought a nuisance to our block. An interesting perspective.

I have children. I don't want the homeless anywhere f'in near my kids.
I was delighted to see someone comment on this post. Judging by what you have to say, my belief that you are a rational and intelligent individual has been reinforced. Homelessness is a tough one to tackle, obviously some increased public expenditure would help, but there will always be homeless.

As always, because I do not have children, I cannot bring that perspective to the table--same goes for death penalty discussion around what it would be like to have a son or daughter murdered etc.

One thing you said early on caught my eye though, about the macro point of view. I often use a macro point of view in death penalty discussion in avoidance (I suppose) of the sensationalism around individual cases. For example, overall, there is a capricious and arbitrary application and the worst of the worst or most heinous crimes are not always the ones being punished. Or, overall, the policy of the death penalty is one that targets the poor while simultaneously costing us a bundle of money.

But back to homeless, if I have change, they are getting it, if I have food, they are getting it, regardless of the overall macro effect, I can't deny them sustenance because I feel for them and I am saddened by their plight.
We all, in our own way, have to try to leave the world better than we found it. That, I think, we can all agree upon.
I was homeless for about 8 months once....course I could travel to friends and stay with them if I wanted. While I learned the drill as to where to go to stay warm, eat, and even work, I realized that the folks I was living with were there for any number of reasons....primarily alcoholism and mental illness. I was there because I was young idealistic and wanted to live in the DC area to protest the war in Vietnam. And wanted to live with minimal attachments at the time. I still respect that there are homeless that actually prefer to live this way as a life choice. Others need help from us as a society and are the canary in the mine shaft telling us how good or badly we're taking care of those who need a helping hand.
I know the homeless, like the death penalty, is a a mere reflection of so many other issues that need to be addressed. The Bush regime, as did the Reagan regime, has done a very good job of widening the gap between the haves and the havenots. Corporatism. But don't get me started. ;-)
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