On bigpinekey.com’s Coconut Telelgrah yesterday: ===========================
Some of the posts attacking F.T.R. [From The Right] are so simple-minded that one hesitates to even bother with a response, perhaps against my better judgment, however I will question a few statements. A poster stated that he knew many Christians, but none that would vote for a Catholic. A statement expressing a fact like that is ludicrous at best. Does he really believe that J.F.K. was elected without a vast Protestant backing. Then to condemn someone for being against the Dem party after he tells his readers he is also bigoted against Dems is very bewildering, to say the least. As for Mr. Goldwater’s extremism, Goldwater replied “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”. What was really the point of that ” Christians” post? It seems impossible to decipher what it was you were trying to say. ===========================
I sent this reply to the Coconut Telegraph:
Goldwater said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” after he was pressed about his own right-wing views and whether or not he sided with/condoned the John Birch Society. You and FTR know that, if you were around back then, and that Goldwater’s extremism led to a very lopsided win for Lyndon Johnson and the downfall of a number of Republican office holders in that election. If Romney had let the modern Goldwater Party, ie. the Tea Party, rot; if Romney had stayed in the Republican center, he might well be your new US President. But he was so cowed by the Tea Party that he tried to sound like he was with them. I wrote about Christians I know, not about Christians I don’t know. I wrote that I am bigoted against the Republican Party, the Tea Party and the Democratic Party, and against politicians, and against those who claim Jesus as Lord but do not live as he lived and taught others to live. I admitted my bigotry. FTR did not admit his bigotry against Democrats, although he spews it in every edition of his commentaries.
For yucks, ponder this: Someone I knew pretty well in the mid-1990s, after reading my Facebook post that three nights before 911, I was asked in my sleep if I would make a prayer for a divine intervention for all of humanity, and that the angels told me that Hurricane Sandy’s visit to NY City was karma for the way G.W. Bush and Barack Obama and many Americans reacted to 911, wrote to me:
Willow – the night before 911 I dreamed that America was a bloated pig, about to cut its own throat! Enjoying your stories.
Me – You really dreamt that the night before 911?
Willow – yeah I really did.
Me – Shazam!
I wrote in plain English, again. If you again did not understand, that means you do not understand plain English.
Letter to the editor in yesterday’s edition of The Key West Citizen:
Angry white men made this country what it is
I remind your readers that “angry white men” formed our country, the most remarkable and successful form of government our world has ever seen and one that endures. The signatories literally put their own lives, their family’s lives, and their personal fortunes on the line when they boldly signed our Declaration of Independence. Today, Tea Party members, Republicans, and independents like myself and their advocates endure uncalled for disdain from liberals. All we want is a return to the principles that have guided us well so far for over 200 years. I was recently at a Renaissance Festival in Pennsylvania and the “queen” and her entourage were walking around. She gave a talk in feigned Shakespearean English and said to our crowd, “Take a knee.” This meant the crowd should bow to her. It was all done in lighthearted jest, but at that moment it struck me that most of humanity has forever been under the yoke of another. Liberals might illiberally say we are under the yoke of the rich “angry white men” but the evidence is that we have made great inroads toward individual freedoms over the our hundreds of years in existence. It does not mean that we should hand out Obamaphones or other entitlements or start setting up political guillotines like a 1700s French revolution and start figuratively beheading those friends, relatives and neighbors of different thought. Nearly half of your neighbors and friends voted against the president getting four more years — for very valid reasons. Now that Obama has been re-elected, these American people want to know how Obama will handle the myriad problems he inherited from himself. How will we get our astronomical national debt down? What about the Middle East? To those who say the GOP has extremist views, what about the Democratic convention and the crowd chanting on live TV for removal of God from their bylaws? That is about as extremist as one can get.
I dunno, Robert. America claiming it is one nation, under God, is about as extremist as it gets. I imagine the angry white men who started this country are plenty angry about how the Republicans, the Tea Partyians, the Democrats and the Independents are behaving today on Capital (spelled that way on purpose) Hill, and elsewhere. There is no way to get the astronomical US debt down, because astronomical is close kin to infinite. If you think it’s bad now, Robert, wait until the next presidential race. You will be thrilled to death.
Another letter to the editor in The Key West Citizen yesterday, to which I responded in italics yesterday.
Art exhibit breaches stigma of homelessness
As we watch the victims of Superstorm Sandy struggle to reclaim their lives and homes while offering them compassion and sending relief, let us keep in mind that many of our island’s homeless residents have experienced their own private Sandy. Addiction, mental illness and economic factors are just a few of the roadblocks facing the growing number of homeless individuals and families around the world. Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, homelessness in New Orleans has more than doubled to include some 4,900 people. Recovery is only possible for those who can find the help they need. If you feel fear, anger or frustration toward the local homeless people who camp in our parks, pee on our streets and bathe in our public restrooms, you are not alone. We often fear the things we don’t understand and become angry when we feel we have lost control of our surroundings.
A part of the reason they pee on your streets is because there are few public restrooms and they are locked at night. The help 99 percent of the long-term homeless (street people) need is beyond human capability. Anyone who still thinks street people can return to mainstream living, if only they do …… (laundry list), is naive. People who actually are involved in trying to return street people to mainstream living know the recidivism rate is very high, about the same as the recidivism rate for people who enter AA or NA – about 95 percent. Only God can overcome something like that.
Most of us who hold jobs and pay dearly for housing believe we would never be reduced to living on the streets in such squalor. But the reality is that many of us are just one disaster, bank account or addiction away from similar hardship ourselves. As history and nature have demonstrated, “there but for the grace of God” goes anyone on the planet.”
I am the living proof of that, I never dreamed I would be homeless, until I was. No program got me off the street. No program could have gotten me off the street and kept me off the street. My father died and left me an inheritance, which got me off the street. But for that, I would still be on the street, or living in a shelter or an extra room or a vehicle. For reasons I cannot fathom, I am unable to make enough money with the skills I have, even with my Social Security retirement benefits, to not be homeless. I do not have the physical ability to hold down a dishwashing job, which I know how to do. And even if I did have the physical ability, I would not make enough money to pay the rent in Key West and still have enough money left over to eat and have decent shoes and sufficient clothing. All I really am able to do with any endurance is read, write and speak, but, as I said above, I am unable to make a living doing that, even though I hear I am pretty good at it.
This week, The Studios of Key West is presenting a bold and timely exhibit that attempts to breach the stigma that so often surrounds homelessness. “Hidden in Plain View: The faces and stories of homelessness,” opens at 6 p.m. today at the TSKW armory. A multimedia event coordinated by homeless advocate Erika Biddle, the show includes contributions from local artists, poets, filmmakers, sculptors and school children, some of them homeless themselves. One of the local artists and poets is me.
I would like to encourage the Florida Keys community, especially those who want to rid our streets of the sick and destitute, to attend this exhibit with an eye for solutions based on compassion and creative problem-solving. In the end, we really are One Human Family with the same basic needs for food, shelter, compassion and kindness from others.
I counseled Erika to steer clear of anyone with their own agenda for Hidden In Plain View, such as Southern Assistance Homeless League (SHAL), if it wanted to use the event to promote SHAL or fix homeless people or eliminate homelessness. I told Erika it was crucial that she simply focus on the event being an art, poetry and music homeless exposition, to which homeless people and non-homeless people could contribute and/or attend. Erika agreed with me and did that. She understood the event itself was the goal. She understood the event itself was art, poetry, music, and she is its muse and the steward God chose to bring it off. The event is Erika’s art, poetry and music. She is the composer and conductor, and the rest of us who contributed are the symphony and we sit in the audience as well.
The Hidden In Plain View opening was a smash success. Nothing in the exhibition is for sale. The penetrating black and white photos lining the walls stole the show, although there were plenty of other attention-getting attractions. I told Father Steven Braddock that I was an amateur street person compared to the people in the black and white photos.
People already were there when I arrive ten minutes before the official 6 p.m. opening. Quickly, there was a big crowd, which kept replenishing with new arrivals, as early arrivals left. There were quite a few homeless men there, and perhaps two or three women who recently were homeless. I talked a while with a local photographer I know, who when she first arrived in Key West lived in her vehicle.
It was totally calm, convivial. I never saw such a crowded art opening, anywhere, and I used to be married to a visual artist. And, I never felt such power in an art exhibition – nowhere close. Deep power, what was visible was but the tip of something far bigger.
When I said I wondered what might come from it, if anything?, Theo Glorie, owner of Coffee Plantation, said Key West says it wants change but it doesn’t. He said nothing changes in Key West, and nothing will come from the exhibition, and I could quote him.
Soon afterward, Steve Braddock and County Administrator Roman Gastesi and I had a spirited conversation about holding the exhibition next in the Murray Nelson Cultural and Government Center on Key Largo. Roman seemed fully behind the idea. I said I would contact Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter about hanging the show after that in Coral Shores High School, Marathon High School, Sugarloaf School and Key West High School, in sequence.
Mayor Craig Cates was there with his wife, Cheryl. I was glad to see them, but did not see any of the city commissioners or the city manager. I didn’t see Mark Porter there, either. If they didn’t make it last night, I hope they and the county commissioners and the school board members all see this exhibition while it still hangs at Studios of Key West.
It is really, really good. Erika Biddle shot the moon, which for her incomplete grasp of American idiom means she got the whole enchilada, knocked the lights out. Kowabonga! Shazam! Holy Toledo! Hot damn! But don’t take my word for it. See the exhibition for yourself.
Mayor Cates told me last night that the new, bigger overnight homeless shelter on Stock Island will make a lot of things better. I said enough beds for all the homeless people to sleep at night will be better, but if they let in people who are drunk and/or doped, it will be a steep haul, because the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (men’s) and Samuel’s House (women’s) shelters do not accept applicants who do not have clean urine. So where will most “graduates” of the new, bigger shelter go next?
That’s the Catch-22. If the new, bigger shelter requires residents to have clean urine, that will prevent about 95 percent of the area’s homeless people from using that shelter. Where will they then sleep at night? Outside, or in jail, depending on how the city government tells its police to deal with it.
There also are the invisible homeless, who live in vehicles and have children, pets, and aren’t allowed into KOTS (Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter). I wonder what provision for them, if any, will be made at the new, bigger shelter, if same ever is built? Good Samaritans force women with small children, and people with clean urine, into a shelter filled with drug addicts? I don’t think so.
I still say, in God’s eyes, we’re all homeless.