Podcast — Rodney

Many problems, one solution



Music:  Laura Branigan, “Gloria”


It’s The William Tell Show.  I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill.  Thank you for including me in your world; a goal I have for The William Tell Show will be that every listener, every caller, will feel included.The shelter where I’m currently housed is about 100 yards southeast of the intersection of Madison Street and Guilford Avenue.  The Dunkin’ Donuts where I spend most of my time is about 100 yards northwest of that intersection.

Rodney panhandles at that intersection.  But he also spends lots of time panhandling right outside the Dunkin’ Donuts.

He calls himself homeless, but, like most such people, he’s not; he lives somewhere northwest of there.  He used to ask me for a cigarette every time I passed; as with many other people who kept asking me for smokes, in May 2022, as mentioned in my post of December 24th, I quit giving them away.  So, sometimes, Rodney would ask me to sell him one, and I would normally say no.

Thereupon, he would launch into a whole raft of obscenities and insults and predictions that someone would do horrible things to my person.  He would go into graphic detail about anal rape.

This didn’t necessarily depend on my refusing to sell him a cigarette.  As time went on, he became prone to engaging in such long, loud talk just any time he’d see me.

The entrance to the Dunkin’ Donuts is a 20-foot long ramp.  Along the south side of that ramp is a low brick wall that you can sit on.  Along the north side is a vacant storefront.  Once, I was sitting at the west end of the wall, and he came and sat down at the east end, and yelled at me, “Get out of my way.”  Another time, I was standing at the west end of the ramp, with my back against the storefront.  He came and sat down on the wall, directly in front of me, and said, “Don’t stand behind me.”

All this, trying to understand all this, it makes sense to suppose that he is a person with no sense of his own worth.  For various reasons, he regards himself as trash, as scum.  I stand in contrast; unlike him, although we are equally poor, my life is basically in order.  So he wants to bring me down to his own level, someone he thinks everyone despises.  He is probably particularly resentful that, most of the time, I smile.

He did succeed, for many weeks, in wiping that smile off my face, every time I saw him.

On the other hand, I observed sustained periods of him talking to himself.  That tells me that he hears voices.  That disorder may be one of the reasons he has despised himself.  Or, it may be that he inflicts me with the same torment that the voices may inflict on him.

Almost all of us, I suppose, hear a voice in one’s head, but one recognizes that voice as one’s own.  People who hear voices — the voices, multiple, are not recognized as one’s own.  And the things they say may be cheerful, or innocuous, or as hurtful as, or worse than, the things Rodney says to me.

To the best of my knowledge, and I have researched this some, there is no known cause for this disorder, and no medication or therapy to alleviate it.  There are strategies that some, who have it, have taught themselves, to make the voices less intrusive, or easier to ignore.  One man said that if he’s watching TV and the voices come on, he merely turns up the TV until it drowns them out.

Many who hear voices are schizophrenic; many aren’t.  Many schizophrenics hear voices; many don’t.  My guess is that it’s about half and half each way:  half of schizophrenics hear voices, half don’t; half of those who hear voices are schizophrenic, half aren’t.

At the shelter where I used to stay, there was one young man who stayed there off and on for several months.  He was extremely muscular — not somebody anyone would want to mess with.  And he had spent significant time in many different psychiatric wards.  He knew every single “needle” that they might inject you with; he knew all their names; he knew what each one did.  And some of that had to do with his having been a handful, from time to time, in those wards.

As of now, he has his own, apparently highly profitable business, doing light construction.  He has enough self-awareness to monitor his emotional state from moment to moment, day to day, and recognize when he’s becoming unstable.  He speaks of having “good mental health days” and “bad mental health days.”

On one occasion, in a psych ward, he was fighting three of the orderlies, and chose to bite one.  He says he did that because Bruce Lee told him to.

While I was housed at the hotel, I overheard the man who lived in the room next to mine for a few days, tell his case manager that the Illuminati sent him messages as often as 500 times a day.

If you do a web search on the phrase, “targeted individual,” you will discover an entire subculture of people who believe that, for whatever reason, the government has — targeted — them for harassment by these voices.  These are the real tin-hat people.

Let’s take a break.

[Commercial break]

The first segment, before the break, was composed some weeks ago.  There have been significant changes since then.  Some of this gets a little spooky, but I will be remiss if I fail to tell the story.

So, the day came when I was standing inside Dunkin’ Donuts, and saw Rodney down at the corner, just goin’ off.  He was shouting, waving his arms around wildly, jumping in the air and turning around and around.  At this point, I decided to simply dismiss all his future abuse of me.  It’s just not worth my attention.

On the other hand, I had begun praying for him.  I’m not sure I can say why.  The specific technique I used is described in another episode of this podcast, entitled “Brightening the Sparks,” and I am providing a link to it.

In the old days, people who heard voices were thought to be possessed.  I am without any reason to believe that that is actually the case.  Olga Worrall says that no situation is immune from the effects of prayer, but the literature is silent as to anyone ever having been healed of this particular disease.  In her writings, Olga Worrall refers twice to situations that may have been attachment rather than possession, but she did not intervene in either of those situations.

Since I began praying for him, there have been dramatic changes in the way Rodney acts.  Now, he hardly ever speaks to me at all.  He has got himself into some program — He’s in treatment. — that apparently pays him to show up for sessions.  He may be on medications that he may not have been before.

Every night, he does what he calls “volunteer work,” spending half an hour calling himself “pointing up” the bathroom at Dunkin’ Donuts.  I had been hoping that he would find positive things to do as opposed to generating negativity all the time, and he’s done this.  If it enables him to feel proud, to feel better about himself, then perhaps it enables him also to feel better about me.

All of this comes in the wake of my merely directing love toward this person.

To his credit, he had to be willing to make some change, or it would not have happened.

He still hears voices.

Individually and in our personal relationships, and in society, we face many different kinds of painful problems.  There is mental illness — in many of the people whom I deal with every day.  People face social conflicts.  At the national level, we face political strife; as, recently, over gas stoves.  At the political level, it seems to me the problem is not that the left and the right disagree, but instead that so many of the people on the left and right hate each other.  But the basis of that hatred — it’s no so much that they hate the other side, as that they are extremely unhappy with their own lives.  They hate life.

I am convinced that there is one, and only one, solution to all these problems, of so many different kinds.  If I have been any good to Rodney, that is an indication.  The one solution is to love each person, love all people, as they are.

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