My friend, homeless no more…?

Apparently, my homeless friend is in the process of getting a place to live.  The place he found is near the college he wants to start taking classes at.

The amazing thing is that it took someone (me) to simply say to him that his situation is unacceptable – for him.  For six months, he accepted being homeless for reasons I don’t understand.

Maybe sometimes people get so use to accepting a negative fate that they don’t see that that same fate is something that can be overcome.

Maybe some thing that to challenge and fail to change that fate will result in a worse condition than the unacceptable present.  I don’t know.

Either way, I’m glad I was their for him.

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So many are hurting, so many aren’t caring…

In my previous post, I talked of how I know someone who is homeless.  He’s a co-worker that I’m determined to help.  And it got me to thinking…

Each of us go through our private hells.  Whether it’s large or small, a sudden crisis or a long term issue, we all have to deall with tremendous difficulties from time to time.

It could be our health, or a concern about a loved one, a financial problem, a romantic relationship in trouble.  It could be something internal.  A crisis of confidence, a realization and acceptance of a long term or even permanent condition.  It could be based on something that can’t be reversed.

Right now I know someone who recently had a foot amputated because of diabetes, I know of a woman who had lupus and can’t find a job, I know of another woman whose mother as cancer, and I know a single mom of two kids who can’t make ends meet because her ex-husband is a deadbeat.

I got to wondering…why is it that so many of us almost willingly show no concern for our fellow man?  Meaning in general…many of us may show some sympathy to specific individuals who are struggling with life.

Is it because we’ve seen an overall breakdown of family that makes us less caring of our communities?

Is it because we’ve become to self-absorbed with trying to “get ahead” that we fail to take time to see deeper meanings in life?

Is it because we’ve used up some sort of sympathy quota that we have and wish to not spend any more time on it?

Is it because we want to stigmatize those that are struggling in order to position them as being “different” from us in order to reassure ourselves that we would never find ourselves in their position?

Is it because, for some, showing concern makes us appear to be weak?

I dunno…but I figure with all of the problems out there, one would thing that there would be a greater “brotherhood of man”.

Just sayin’.

One person’s plight…

A couple of nights ago I got in a conversation with a guy I know. He told me that he felt that he could put his trust me. We’re not really friends…co-workers for the most part.

He’s 43, Vietnamese American, about 5’2″ tall. He’s an extremely hard worker, one of the hardest I’ve ever met. Very professional. Very conscientious.

His personality – and his appearance – is similar to that of the minions in the movie “Despicable Me”. Tiny, determined, always willing to please. He’s the type of person that others will find somewhat hilarious…in an affectionate way. At his previous job, his nickname was – to no surprise – “Turbo”. He’s the type of person that most women would describe as being “cute”…most men may subconscioulsly think that as well, although we don’t use that word.

Last night he told me he was homeless. He’s been homeless since last August.

It’s been subfreezing here for about ten days now.

His biggest dream has been to get a four year degree in biology. I’m not sure why as I don’t know if he is looking to do something in related fields. I get the sense, at the very least, that it’s actual concept of having that degree. He’s determined to get it. It aches at him because he doesn’t feel complete. And I think that the reason that it aches him so much is because he’s lost both parents (something he often mentions) and he sees a degree as a way of fulfilling his own dream…a dream made possible through the sacrifices that his parents made by emigrating here years ago.

So each night, around midnight, he pulls into a covered parking lot of a gym, pulls out his sleeping bag that he says is made for temperatures that can get to -20 F and hopefully gets some sleep. He can shower in the gym because he’s a member…the monthly fee of $49 provides him this opportunity and is a de facto paying of rent. He’s got his rice cooker in his car. He still has his dream, but he has this fear that it’s slipping away.

And I’m the only one who knows this.

A sort of accurate political poll of me

So I took this online test from Time Magazine to measure my political leanings on a conservative/liberal basis.  I’ve always considered myself to be a centrist and this test confirms that.

I’m 43% conservative, 57% liberal.

Where I lean liberal, I:
– have a messy desk
– think self-expression trumps self-control
– like fusion cuisine
– think government should treat the lives of its citizens as equal to those of other countries (not really)
– use a modern browser
–  prefer the Met to Times Square (sort of, depends on the mood)

When I lean conservative, I:
– like dogs more than cats
– prefer action movies to documentaries
– think kids should learn to respect authority
– don’t think that a person’s partner should be looking at porn alone
– think that the world benefits from nations and borders
– am proud of my country’s history

The explanations don’t show how the test measures level of agreement with the statements offered, but the overall result does seem to be accurate.

 

Boston Strong

Boston took a giant hit last week on one of its most glorious days.  Patriots Day.

It’s called Patriot’s Day because it celebrates the very opening battles of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord.  It’s celebrated by many because that feeling of patriotism can still be felt in the air amongst those that live in and around Boston today.  It’s part of the culture.

The hallmark event of Patriot’s Day, the Boston Marathon, is a one day festival of endurance, of unity, of civic pride.  It’s a pride well deserved.

Boston, is essentially, where America began.  Where ideas of liberty and individual freedom took root.  Where rebelliousness against tyranny stood strong. And, like many cities in the northeast and Midwest, Boston served as the landing place and new homes for millions of immigrants.  For most of America’s history, places like Boston, essentially served as the hub of what America was always becoming.   That is a true as it was in 1776 as it was through the wave of Irish coming during the potato famine in the mid 19th century, through waves of Italians, and Jews, and Greeks, and Armenians, and free blacks, and Haitians, and Puerto Ricans, and countless others.

The spirit of what America is becoming is ingrained in the area, in the people, in the way of life.  It can’t and won’t be defeated.

This is best shown in a spontaneous outpouring of affection shown here:


The Boston Marathon will never really be the same.  It would be an injustice to the three innocent victims that were killed that day – Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Lu Lingzi if we tried to hard to “move on” in order to forget.  It would be an injustice to Officer Sean Collier of the MIT police force if we wanted to forget.  My they forever RIP.

It’s my hope that we learn from this.  It’s my hope that we take little Martin Richard’s words of “Stop Hurting People” seriously – for once.  It’s my hope that we as a people can be strengthened by the resilience and character of the people of Boston.  My favorite city.

God bless Boston and I’m grateful that it has been part of my life.

My thoughts on Election 2012

I’m going to end up voting for someone who I often don’t agree with. That’s me. I’m a centrist/independent. Got that from my dad. And while I admire my choice for the presidency, I don’t worship him. It’s just that overall, I either agree with him more than I do his opponent or I’ve found something in his opponent that I don’t like enough to make sure my vote goes against that person.

The guy I won’t be voting for is not someone that I’m going to take the time to hate. In fact, I admire him and I admire the fact that he loves this country enough to put himself one the line here. He obviously is dedicated to America. And I don’t hold in disdain the people who will be voting for him.

One of the things that has disappointed me the most about this elections is that it has been almost completely void of ideas.

We’re at war. We’ve been at war for over ten years now. We need to develop some sort of strategic vision as to how we are going to face the international challenges over the next half century. The ascension of China and India in the world stage and how we will adapt economically and, to an extent, militarily. Add Latin America to that. The rise of political Islam in some countries. How we will maintain an energy policy that will meet our needs yet now harm the environment. How we will a changing Europe.

We’re in a complete economic flux. Our manufacturing base is all but disappearing. Technological implementations mean more productivity with less employment. Stagnant wages brought on by international competition and, yes, the amount of illegal immigrants/undocumented workers that move into the employment pool. All of this has lead to an increase in income disparity while, from what I can gather, less upward mobility. For some, that means less hope for a prosperous future. We may be creating a permanent underclass…one that seems to be very easy to pick on. It seems the powerful in both parties don’t address any issues related to poverty.

Our environment is a mess. Yeah, I believe that climate change exists. And I also believe that we’ve yet to understand the ramifications of it. I’ve also read where something like 40% of our lakes, rivers, and streams are too polluted to swim in or eat fish from. The Chesapeake Bay has huge dead zones where nothing exists.

And lastly, this election shows me once again, we are a divided nation. Hateful rhetoric thrives here. Whether it’s from the actual political arena of from many of you here on Facebook.

Obama is a communist. Romney voters are racists. The poor are lazy and want handouts. The rich are greedy. Whoever votes for the other guy is an idiot.

I could go on. In fact, I will.

I’ve seen Catholicism attacked for standing up on its principles. I’ve seen Mormonism defined as a cult. I’ve see gays attacked for hateful religious reasons when all they want is to be accepted. I’ve seen Muslims deemed as potential terrorists. I’ve seen loosely veiled attacks on blacks as somehow being less American than whites. I’ve seen hardworking business owners positioned as being selfish all the while I’ve seen hardworking employees who may be struggling being positioned as playing the role of being victims. I’ve seen women attacked for considering having an abortion. I’ve seen conservative Christians openly attacked as being morons. I’ve seen government workers get attacked for not having a real job.

Fuck all that.

Most of these simplistic, stupid digital posterboards trashing one side or the other show no interest is improving the country. Sure, some of them are funny, some may raise legitimate points. But most don’t say much being “the other side sucks”.

I’ve seen a lot of vicious battles here on Facebook over the past few months. Got a few arrows in my back and I’ve had to remove an ax or two from my forehead. I’ve seen a lot of people that I’ve come to admire make, what I consider to be, idiotic comments, predictions, etc. I’m sure post-election I’ll regain some of the respect I’ve had for them as it has been tarnished. But it disappoints me that from so many I saw so little. Work to make a better America? No…my side is so right and we’re doomed to hell if the asshole on the other side wins.

Either way, I’ll predict that no matter who will win, at the end of their term in 2016, the republic will still stand. We’ll still be America, an awesome country overall.

Suggestion: if you bitched about how this country is or how it will be under the other guy, you may want to try doing the following over the next four years.

Mentor a disadvantaged kid who needs a break, who needs someone who has faith in him or her.

Thank a veteran who took time out of his or her life to potentially put his life on the line for all of us.

Talk to someone who you normally can’t relate to…a small business owner who has to deal with government regulations, a social worker who deals with unimaginable stories, a person who’s lost their job and has come to the realization that their way of life ain’t coming back, a recent immigrant from another country (legal or illegal) who can speak on how America can likely offer more opportunity. This country isn’t just about you and the issues that you’ve come to feel are the most important.

Vote. And after you vote, get off your high horse and get off your ass and make this a better country. That’s what I intend to do.

Peace.

Sandy’s aftermath

As hurricane Sandyroars outside, I’m now thinking how fortunate I am.  It’s somewhat rough here…but from what’s going on in the news and from what I’m hearing from my friends on social media, it’s obvious that many other areas have it a lot worse.  Here, it’s mostly hard rain and some strong winds inconsistently coming and going.

The rain sounds comforting.  I reminds me that I’m safe inside.  It’s constant.
Storms like this can effect almost 100,000,000 people.  The vast majority of us  hunkered down in some manner.  With loved ones, or by ourselves connected to others by phone or by computer.   Some of us are at work.
Storms like this reminds us that there’s a commonality within humanity.  A commonality that we all too soon forget.  Nature does that to us.  Or maybe for us.  It reminds us that we are all human and while as individuals, we’re often no match for the wrath of nature, humanity itself is the greatest buffer in case of disaster.

Then tomorrow is recovery for most.  For the more unfortunate, recovery takes longer.

But soon after that, we’re back to being divided.  Divided by whatever we want to be divided by.  Deep divisions that aren’t always necessary.

Why is that?