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In Defense of Homelessness

In Defense of Homelessness

With all the grumbling and dissatisfaction over the so-called "homeless problem" in Santa Barbara and across the nation I think the average citizen loses sight of the fact that "homelessness" is the natural state of mankind. We are not, nor have we ever been, born with a home. We are often born in a home or, as is more common nowadays, born in a hospital and then taken home but we are not born along with a home. That would be difficult for the mother, giving birth to a home as well as a child, and in the case of twins or (Heaven forbid) triplets or (the agony) quintuplets the poor mother would likely be faced with the disagreeable task of producing the requisite housing in the form of:uh:duplexes and condos? A vaguely unsettling picture emerges of delivery rooms hung with cranes and derricks; Nurses splattered with blood and exterior latex paint; Forklifts and burly construction workers leap to mind; Doctors yelling : "Get that cable tight, Rudy. Frank, jack that corner up! Okay everybody, Mrs. Smith, you guys with the crowbars, all together now, PUSH!" No, we are not born with homes, we're fitted into homes after birth, kind of like we're fitted into coffins after death:from one box to another then into the ground.

The fact is, for the first several million years of our evolution we were essentially naked and un-housed. It's only been for the last fraction of our existence that we have lived under any roof other than the sky and a smaller fraction of that time that we have done it in any great numbers. Cavemen, you say? Understand me, a cave is not a home. It may be a "place to take shelter" but it is not a home, there is a basic difference. There must be. I lived in a hole in the side of a hill for over a year and yet I was counted among the "homeless" by those in authority and so a cave is not a home and "cavemen" were homeless men. I stand by that.

Now, if I've managed to get your attention, if I've managed to steer you even one quarter-turn away from the commonly accepted view of homelessness, let me steer you yet further by presenting you with a question: What great benefit is there in spending your time and energy purchasing something you can't eat, drink, or take to the movies? We need food. We need water. We need to feel a moist tongue in our ear during intermission. We do not need to own a home. I submit, in fact, that it could be dangerous to own or even live in a home. I further submit that to do so, to live in a home for any length of time, may cause severe and probably irreversible social and moral disorders:perversions:and, sadly, DEATH. Yes, DEATH. With all the capital letters I can muster I repeat, DEATH. Which, in a very real sense, is worse than a social or moral disorder in that it is definitely irreversible. You are asking, what is he talking about? I will illustrate what I'm talking about with an illustration:

  1. Adolph Hitler

  2. Vlad the Impaler

  3. Charles Manson

  4. Saddam Hussein

  5. Joseph Stalin

  6. The Marquis de Sade

  7. Torquemada

  8. Samuel Berkowitz

  9. Jeffery Dahmer

  10. That guy from "Silence of the Lambs"

I think you see where I'm taking you. It is a dark place, a place that squats on the edge of our consciousness, smirking; A place that makes us turn our face away because it is so obvious it makes us feel complicit. We don't want to admit it but it grabs us by the throat and makes us look it in the eye; It says to us: Houses are where bad things happen and bad people live...

Except for Jeff and Charlie, all the above people (in my illustration) were solidly and irrevocably homed. Even Jeff and Charlie spent a great deal of their time homed and Charlie instigated his most brutal and noteworthy atrocities while homed at the Spahn Ranch. My point is, obviously, that the one thing that connects all these ten social monsters is the fact that they all lived in-doors for a significant portion of their lives. I'll go so far as to challenge any reader of this letter to offer me a list of bad people that did not live in a house. Give me ten bad people that did not live in a house (good luck with that) and I will counter you with a list of fifty who did. Give me fifty, I'll give you one-hundred-and-fifty. We'll stop there. Just because.

Anyway, when wars are fought, they are generally fought out in the open air. But when tortures occur, they generally occur behind closed doors:which are attached to walls:which are what houses are made of. Similarly, if you just feel like shooting someone you can do that in an alley or a subway or out in the street. But if you want to "teach them a lesson they'll never forget", or make them "wish they'd never screwed with you", or get back at them for "using your toothbrush", well, you need to "get them somewhere where you can really drive your point home". Get it? Home.

Houses are where bad people live and bad things happen.

Armed with this new information, the next time you see a homeless guy urinating on someone's front lawn you'll do well to measure what is happening out front against what may possibly be happening inside. The next time you are stopped on the street by a homeless person asking for a little spare change, remember: He's not asking for blood; Only someone with a place to hide the body dares ask for blood; only someone with a basement, a deep, cinder-block-lined basement will attempt to extract your life-sustaining fluids. The homeless guy just wants a pint of vodka. The homed guy may well desire a pint of something you'd just as soon not part with.

So, aside from the inescapable fact that homelessness is our natural and God-given state, and aside from the collateral fact that to give birth to a homed child is a practical absurdity and despite the fact that society forces homedness upon us even though it does us no real, earthly good there is the sobering reality of what living in a house does to the fragile human psyche. An honest examination of the problem reveals a level of depravity among homed people that would shame the Devil. And the closer you house people the more profound the effect: Look at the inner cities: Detroit, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York; Violence, gangs, drugs, prostitution:murder. Wide-open plains and deserts might be where the bodies get dumped, but the deed itself is done in town.

I'll end this short essay by admitting that I have no answers. Homedness is here to stay, I fear, we are such creatures of comfort. I only know that houses are like drugs, or cigarettes, or alcohol in that we will expend enormous amounts of time, money and energy to purchase them and give little thought to the fact that, inevitably, they'll kill us.

As long as a blind-eye is turned toward the inherent evils of homedness; as long as real estate companies are allowed to peddle their malevolent wares on the open market; as long as homelessness is looked down upon and the homeless treated like pariahs; as long as a man can march numbly from his first box to his last box and go thus into the cold ground without a second thought as to all the sunsets and sunrises and blue skies he's missed because he hid his face away inside a stale, confining, soul-shattering house; as long as I have a semi-colon at my disposal I will expose the homed and defend the homeless. I only wish I could shout my message from the rooftops but as you know, rooftops are attached to roofs which are attached to walls which are what houses are made of and houses are where bad people live and:well:you know the rest.

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