WEATHER »

Intermission and explanation

A recent letter from a respondent has made it clear to me that my goals and my motives for writing these blogs may have been lost on some readers because of the peculiar way I have chosen to present them. Trust me, I am not always clear about my goals and motives either, although I would like to think that, all things working to the good, my goals are realistic and my motives pure. Let me align you then, you the reader, with myself the writer and lay out in a more precise manner the journey that I'm inviting you on if you have the desire to visit a strange country:
The respondent, Mike, pointed out in an unbiased and informed fashion the true nature of freedom and I am in whole-hearted agreement with him. The only problem I see is that I had not presumed to explore the nature of freedom so much as the "impressions" of freedom as they were experienced by two drunks who, I hope, would never be mistaken for teachers but only looked upon as human. I cannot defend the two individuals I presented in my vignette without prejudice because one of them was "me" and the other a treasured friend, nor can I defend their necessarilly flawed view of freedom and law-enforcement and responsibility. All I can do is attempt to convey their personal experience and their feelings. But why? Ah, therein lies my motive and nearby, my goal.
If a person wishes to understand something new or something different he must go places he's never gone and do things he's never done; I will defend that view to my dying day. Armchair experiencers of life are only learning about armchairs, not life. Yet I don't expect anyone to walk away from their job and their home in order that they should learn about homelessness and poverty. I do expect, however, that before judging a homeless man too harshly a fair-minded person would at least talk to him first or walk some of the streets he's walked. I ask, no I urge you, the reader, to allow me to familiarize you with the thoughts and feelings and experiences of the homeless as preparation for what you must do if you wish to judge them on any level and that is to go meet them. In my humble view of things if you lack the courage to approach the subject of your derision or your curiosity for a close view then you may as well stay in your armchair with your mouth shut because you will only confirm your worst suspicions if you view them from afar. This applies to a wide variety of type, color, nationality, economic-level, and ideology of human-beings as well as "things in general". The philosopher said: "our enemy (or the object of our derision.) is only someone we haven't gotten to know yet". It is my experience and the foundation of my own personal philosophy that to know a man or woman is, invariably, to love them. Unless you are an irrepairable sociopath or have been culturally crippled by your upbringing you cannot break-bread and share salt with a man and then walk away without a different view of him...hopefully a more positive view. One thing is for certain, if a man finds his way clear to break-bread with you in a friendly manner and you continue to hold on to a negative view of him and continue to feel and act in a derisive manner toward him then you are a person of questionable character who will never be a friend of mine...oh, and you shouldn't have eaten his food.
This idea, that you must get to know a thing up-close and personally before you can say you know a thing at all, I feel, extends to everything and in all directions but for my purposes I intend to shine the light of this idea on only a narrow range of subjects. Because it seems to operate most efficiently and at its peak of application when applied to people I will shine it at it's fullest, upon homelessness and poverty, coditions of people...
I do not defend homelessness although, ironically, I did defend homelessness once in a humorous op/ed article which appeared in this paper. Humour was the scalpel I was applying to the homeless problem then, honesty is the one most needed though, honesty and love, yes, love: An often misused word which is falling into even deeper repute because of the teachings of scientism which lowers mankind and his functions to a mere series of biological imperatives and reduces love and courage and friendship and faith to reflexes...knee-jerk reactions to the environment which can be explained away by anthropologists and social-scientists. Bullshit. Come into my world before you jump to any further conclusions about the unseen qualities in yours, if you happen to be a person who inhabits a world seemingly devoid of love...or courage...or God. The first thing you'll learn about our two worlds is that they are the same world and the second thing you'll learn is that there is a God in mine...and love. See there, a little semantic sleight-of-hand and I have already injected a God into a world which, possibly, lacked one...
My ultimate goal though is to make you think. To make you think and to help you accept the possibility that any snap-judgement you may have made concerning the homeless in Santa Barbara, or anywhere, is just that, a snap judgement. a judgement made without experience to back it up, without knowledge. William james said: "A sure bar to all knowledge is contempt prior to investigation..." Shall we investigate homelessness then? I warn you, you'll have to get to know the homeless themselves before you can judge their condition. It may take some courage. Do you have courage? Then it is time to excercise that courage. Do you lack courage? Then here, take my arm, I'll accompany you.

I'm no longer homeless but most of the good friends I have I aquired while I was still on the streets. They are not nor were they then all homeless themselves. You would be surprised the number of friends I have who are members of mainstream society in good standing. They are people who possessed that rare brand of courage that allows people to intereact with others despite their apparent differences. I will introduce some of them as my essays continue but let me say here that all of them, at some point in our relationship, have openly expressed the doubts they had about me in the beginning and the delight they experienced when they discovered that their doubts were, for the most part, unfounded and always unrealistic. For my part I have shared in their delight and expanded upon it by pointing out to them how much our friendships have been embellished by the simple fact that I was homeless when we met. What do I mean? When you have possessions or influence or resources you sometimes discover that it is these things that make you attractive to others, not you as a person. When you have nothing though, absolutely nothing, any friendships you manage to cultivate are relatively unblemished by hidden agendas or secret motivations...they actually like you. The person. Wayne. It is so liberating to know that the person sitting beside you at the coffee-shop is there because he likes you, because he wants to be there.
So, climb on-board, I'll take you to a foriegn country a stones-throw from your front-door. You'll like it there at times. You'll learn a few things. You may even learn a few things about ....you.

Now that I've realized my error for the second time I will manage these blogs differently: I'll continue the vignettes so that you may come to know the folks that inhabit the fringes of your city and stumble roughshod down your streets while also presenting essays on homelessness itself. I'll leap-frog, in a sense, presenting one and then the other while giving attention to context. I think I can do this in a way that will be entertaining and keep your attention; If I cannot then I'm not a writer and my blog will falter, fail, and die as it should. I'll flip burgers instead...as I should.
I will intersperse these writings with occasional essays on other topics, sometimes loosely related to homelessness, sometimes not. My next writing project, for example, will be entitled: "Is it illegal to be black in Santa Barbara?" Don't miss it. Wayne Myers

event calendar sponsored by: