Lacking Compassion

Homelessness

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and see the light of compassion.

ref=”http://gatoraceae.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1-1.jpg”> The gentlemen… minus a few.[/ca
I had a rather one-sided conversation the other day with a fellow cyclist. The conversation has been lingering on my mind ever since.  All I could think about during this conversation was how unkind, heartless and lacking in empathy this man was.  There were a handful of other men present and I could tell some of them were uncomfortable with this man’s words (he wasn’t ranting, but close to it), yet, none of us were willing to create a scene and bluntly call this man out on his rhetoric..  

Cyclists on group rides come from all walks of life, careers, educational backgrounds and political leanings.  This diversity can usually make for good, educated discussions on all sorts of topics.

[/caption]This individual stated that “all homeless people are drug addicts and that they chose that life”.  I don’t know how this conversation had started. I had just rejoined the group after filling up my water bottle and others were in getting a ‘Starbucks’. This comment is what made my ears perk up and I started to listen in more on the conversation.

Wow, just wow.  I sort of joined the conversation and I stated that I believed most homeless people ‘probably’ suffered from mental illness or had had unfortunate family life circumstances that had brought them to this point in their lives and that yes, some are now drug addicts. My belief and understanding are that no one “chooses” to become a drug addict.  Often it is a result of ‘said’ unfortunate life circumstances. Drugs are often an escape and there is more often than not, an underlying mental illness.

I think this man honestly believed all homeless people ‘chose that life’ and ‘got what they deserved’.  He said if he was homeless and lived in a homeless gathering in San Jose and another homeless person died, he wouldn’t call the police but he’d bag up the dead guy and dump them in a dumpster.  (I think this conversation started because the group was referring to a recent news story about San Jose homeless.)

Are there seriously people who are this cold-hearted?

This individual “appeared” to be affluent and he griped about all the taxes he has to pay in California.  And what did he get for that?  And he stated that all the states send their homeless to California.  Maybe it’s true that 1/4th the homeless live here. Anyone want to verify that number?  (See link below, I call BS on his comments.)

He also said he wants to move to Tennessee where it would be so much cheaper to retire. He said he’d keep his California home and be okay paying California property taxes.

I asked him what he’d suggest as a solution in regards to the opioid crisis and homelessness? Many of these individuals have had a work injury and ended up getting addicted to the pain meds.  Is this the life they chose? And whose responsible?  The families, the individual, the former employer, the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies?

Of course, he didn’t try to answer but diverted to mentioning how terrible it was that churches in the East Bay were going to build tiny house pods for homeless.  Clearly, he didn’t want this in “his” backyard.  I was preferring to not become a part of this one-sided conversation, but it was really hard to ignore.

I probably prodded with a few more questions, trying to elicit any sign of compassion or empathy.  Never saw any.

I mentioned to this person that I am a “pre-existing” condition, both by being female and by actually having a disease (I did not mention what that disease is).  Couldn’t illicit any indication of surprise or concern on his part.  I thought if he could put a face with a situation, he might show a level of empathy. Please note, I was the also the only female out of 10 riders on this group ride. 

As a married woman, my husband and I made the choice for me to forgo a larger more lucrative career and to work only part-time while choosing to raise a family and to put our children’s upbringing first.  It’s a choice we made, but in reality, for a woman to choose family over career means she will most likely forever be dependent on that man/partner to live a secure life or will most likely lead a life with far greater risk of leading to homelessness and poor health care.  This isn’t a blog post about equality and shared responsibilities, though I can see the connection.  The poor, the unlucky and the mentally ill sometimes need some assistance.  Again, whatever happened to the biblical rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12).  This is commonsense ethics.

I guess for an individual like this man, until it is him, his child or brother or best friend, that suffers a crisis, such as a mental health issue or injury that leads to an opioid addiction, they just can’t see the light of compassion. Or maybe they are so cold-blooded, they would just abandon their family member or friend.

As the following news story link points out, it doesn’t appear like most of these individuals are homeless due to their choice to be drug addicts.  In fact, sounds like a lot of homeless are not drug addicts at all.  I do think the homeless that people see and are aware of, are those who are mentally ill.  These homeless mentally ill individuals are mistaken for being on drugs.  Homelessness is a complex issue with many diverse contributing factors.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/30/san-jose-huge-surge-in-homeless-silicon-valley-youth/

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and see the light of compassion.

Government Data Report  Homelessness rates per 100K from US government data.

D. C. = 1,097/100K

New York – 453/100K

California – 342/100K

Note that Oregon is at 341/100K, basically the same as California.

I did not look at every state,  And clearly, if you even glance at the numbers, 1/4th of the homeless in the nation do not live in California.  One also needs to take into account the size of California and the total population relative to the number of homeless.

I think this man has believed a lot of propaganda that he has been fed and seen.

Another factsheet: https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/states/lauraslawindex.html#factsheets

28% of homeless suffer mental illness (General population, mental illness is 6%)

 

Just be mindful!

Tragic events fill the headlines. That’s not new news!

I retire in the evening to bed, only to make the mistake of looking at my news feed to learn of yet another attack, this time in Nice, France. I awake to my news feed analyzing the latest shooting, explosion or tragedy.

Gone are the days when news traveled slowly. Decades ago, often, something happening on the other side of the world never made it to our newspaper or radio. If it did, it most likely wasn’t accompanied by photos or graphic video complete with audio or articles followed with a vitriol of hateful and hurtful commentators that only fuel the divide.

What’s worse is that breaking, tragic headline news will be replaced with another breaking, tragic headline, often in less then 24 hours. The prior tragic event will drift away from the headline. Will anything have been learned? Will anything ever change?

Technology has made the news that is newsworthy hard to distinguish from all the background stories. I want to keep informed and to be educated on current local, national and global events and research outcomes. But, I haven’t figured out how to sort through all the information that this vast news highway is constantly streaming onto my screen.

I need my screen. My screen has become my phone, my camera, my bank, my electronic mail, my calendar, my alarm clock, my entertainment and my modern day rolodex. At least it fits my concept of minimalism.

Back to the news: so much hate, so much miss understanding, so much lack of empathy and lack of compassion passes before my eyes. How can I make sense of it all?

Can we just stop and look deep into the eyes of the one we fear or hate or judge? Hold their gaze. Look at each other. What do you think you’ll see?

In most instances you will see another human being. Someone who is loved and is important to others. Someone who is trying to get by in life: to have the minimum of shelter, food, clothing and maybe a bit more. Occasionally you will unfortunately see fear, anguish and imbalance.  This is when we must show our most vulnerable side, continue to look into that individuals eyes with the greatest amount of compassion you can find. Look back with empathy. Offer to just listen. Sometimes this maybe all that we can offer. It’s hard to do. It’s a lot easier to just avoid or pretend they don’t exist or maybe worse, tell them how wrong or messed up they must be.

Many of the individuals who have committed many of these acts of violence, I believe, most likely have a mental imbalance. They have a fear or hatred that has festered and grown out of a lack of education and understanding. Often it seems we learn that most of these acts are acts by individuals acting alone. The blame maybe put on a particular group or a particular group may take credit for the act.

As FDR said the “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”

We can’t give up on fighting for everyones rights. Collectively I pray that our individual voices will be the change. I maybe only one voice. I will do what I can. I continue to write to my elected officials on issues that resonate with me.

I continue to seek renewal through nature so that I can provide what little support I can to those whose lives maybe in need of compassion when our paths cross.

I would rather have written today about providing water for bee’s or another poor food labeling job on a product not disclosing hidden gluten. But, I had to free these thoughts, so I can continue to move forward and be a small part of the change, the amount of change that one, just one person can be.

As the generations before us have said, history repeats itself. When will we learn from the past? Haven’t we seen this all before?