A parable of relief vs. advocacy
“Relief” refers to providing for needy people’s immediate survival needs — food, shelter and clothing, direct material gifts. “Advocacy” refers to political activism, meant to change policies and laws. People and organizations who presume to serve the poor, face choices as to which one to emphasize.
The parable of the babies in the river addresses that choice. Activists love it. Desmond Tutu and others have endorsed it.
Continue reading The babies in the river →
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
I need to re-think this.
Continue reading “The wrongest verse” revisited →
(Originally posted June 22, 2013 at Trojan Horse Productions. Reblogged 2014-09-10.)
My normal day runs as follows. After breakfast at the mission, at 5:45 I head for McDonald’s, where I drink coffee ($1.06) and do my prayer routines. Around 9:15, I head for the library, stopping at a convenience store en route to buy smokes ($2.75) and a soda ($1.69). From 10:00 to 2:00 I’m online at the library. When my time’s up, I go to the Wi-Fi café, write in my diary and have another cup of coffee ($1.00). Then it’s back to the mission, where I have to pay admission ($3.00).
Sunday mornings, I am normally left with bus fare to church ($1.60) and pennies. I meet my patrons at church and obtain an allowance for the next week.
Continue reading A simple lesson →
Thursday 2014-07-03. Jimmy came up to me at McDonald’s yesterday and sat down and talked about the incident. He doesn’t say he’d been drinking. He says people thought he’d been drinking.
Recall his psychiatric diagnoses.
Pastor sent me this clipping about the homeless squatters’ camp underneath the Jones Falls Expressway, which the City was about to raze — again. He thought the housing vouchers it mentions might be available to me. They’re not. A different detail caught my eye: the remark that many people in the camp “struggle with mental illness and addiction.” Note the “and.”
Continue reading Jimmy, part 2 →
16:01 Saturday 2014-06-28. [Written in the “smoke pit” at the shelter, waiting admission.]
They escorted Jimmy out of here about half an hour ago. He’s always been a milquetoast. Now he was shouting and cursing. “Yeah, I been drinking.” Whatever happened at the desk, he’s barred out now. I owe him $2.
He’s diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and ADHD. I’ve seen him reading books about both of those diseases, but never anything about alcoholism.
Continue reading Jimmy →
Some weeks ago, I stood in line awaiting check-in at the shelter. This place charges $3 a night. I was holding my money in my hand, and someone playfully tugged at it. I snapped. I said, “You don’t value your life much, do you?”
Minutes later, I explained this to someone else. I said, “Don’t take a man’s last dollar.” “Why not?” he asked. I said, ” ‘Cause that’s the one he’ll die for. That’s the one he’ll kill for.”
Don’t take my last dollar. That’s the one I’ll kill for.
I’ve been on hard times since 2004. If I lose, or am robbed or cheated, of $20 or $50, that’s a pretty significant amount. But it doesn’t hurt all that much if I have more, and know more is coming. However, if I lose, or someone robs or cheats me of my last $1 — that’s the one that really hurts. That’s the one I’ll kill for.
These memories came to me as I reflected on Maggie Fox’s 08/29/2013 article, “Poor people aren’t stupid; bad decisions are from being overwhelmed, study finds.”
Continue reading Chaos overwhelms the poor →