Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Why do I do it?

Recently, I was asked, in front of a group of people I was presenting to, a question that I wasn't prepared to answer. They asked me " Why do you do it?" The question referred to my employment: doing a work I rarely see the end result of,  helping young people who are in tough situations, who have little gratitude, while I am paid a comparably low wage. My answer was jumbled with some "ums" , "i like helping people" and a joke thrown in because, at the time I really couldn't think of a comprehensive idea of why I do do it. Afterwards, It thought that I really should know why I do the work I do.

There is a chance that even after I think this idea through and type it out I still won't truly know the answer, but I will know what one answer might be.

Why do I do it?

Ninety-seven percent of the time while reading comics or watching movies, television shows, reading history (or a version of it) I have been drawn to the hero and have been able to see myself in their place, making the choices they make ( will admit there is the three percentage of times where I do identify with the villain-that might be another blog). But why do I identify with the hero?

When I was not quite yet born my mother had an encounter with God, she believed in Jesus Christ and got saved (as the vernacular was in the late seventies and early eighties). Getting saved was important to her and my dad later on. She was saved from going to hell, saved from drinking, saved from smoking, and saved from living a life with low moral standards. Based on her words and my observations growing up, it was important for her that those she cared for got saved as well. I think this idea became ingrained in my personality, to save the people I care about.

Very early on I committed to follow Jesus Christ myself, pursued getting to know what that meant and how to live it out. This meant I needed to read about Christianity. I read everything C.S. Lewis had written, some of it twice and committed to reading or listening to the Bible, as part of my lifestyle. What I found was that Jesus came to find the people who were lost and to save them. Sometimes he saved them from other people, mostly he saved them from sickness and disease, and ultimately through dying and coming back to life saved their spirits from ultimate death. A commitment to follow Jesus Christ and become like him logically followed, in my mind, that I needed to do the same thing.
As a teen I was fairly obsessed with Star Wars, Star Trek, Comic Books, Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. The theme in these stories is, for the most part, saving people, races, planets, and friends. I knew I wanted to be saving people.
A man must know his destiny… if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder… if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.” 
― George S. Patton Jr.
Sometimes this saving came in ways that are not conventional, not sanctioned by society, or didn't even resemble the act of saving. But the theme was always helping those who needed help, even at the expense of self (see the example of Jesus Christ). 

The driving force behind what I do, in my work with youth and disadvantaged people is my connection to Jesus Christ. I endeavor to do everything out of love, sometimes my love, sometimes the love of God; sometimes it is a mix of both. The bible tells us that greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for a friend. I believe this and feel compelled to live my life to help others. 

I see this world as a beautiful connection of spirits, souls, and bodies. Some people have been disconnected from this beautiful connection. By helping people become their best and connecting them with others and with God, the world is as it should be. When this doesn't happen I feel pain, sorrow, and it fuels me to work harder than I think I can and do more than is required of me.

Based I what I know of God and have read, I have faith that what I am doing matters. Faith that everything, no matter how small, makes a difference. Faith that good always triumphs over evil. Faith that I am fulfilling my purpose and that God is taking care of me in that place. I do not always, or even often, see the positive outcomes, but I believe they are happening. I do not always have a perfect sense of how to best help people, but when I am afraid I become courageous. I think that courage is fear hanging on a minute longer. That is how the world is impacted, that is how people are saved, that is how I help. It is why I do it.


A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
-Christopher Reeve

Living Life

“Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.” 
― George S. Patton 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Gospel without the Bible?

This is a conversation a couple young people had with me today. They are 20 and 22 have not been raised in church and have not read the Bible.

"Man Satan doesn't want us to know. These clothes, cars, these buildings are are here to take our minds off the spiritual. It's crazy."

"Real talk, we were so close to god, right there. That's why Satan came and tricked Eve. F***d us all up."

"Yes, all this gas, nuclear power, radiation; they are all wearing off the god that is in us. We are all made of God, in the spirit. 100 percent."

"These wires, buildings, the billionaires, they are all keeping us disconnected from god."

"Yes, that's why Jesus went to the cross."


Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

Just a typical post from the people that I encounter at work. Makes me think.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

YOLO is a Lie

I miss Mercy. 
Mercy was our sheep.
A very annoying loud ball of wool that ate too much and made the pasture muddy. She lived and died. She isn't going to live again. She lived and seemed to know it was one time around for her. She ate as much as she could, did what she wanted, when she wanted.

The truth is every single one of us is going to continue to live. After we are buried, a time will come when we will live again.


What we do here matters. It doesn't only matter here it matters in the here after. The place that is existing after here. No one can truly tell you how much it matters; how the little things matter, how they will be rewarded or punished or what type of effect they will have on the here after. But they matter know and they matter later.

Everyone that believes in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ understands that there is life after this life. It matters how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and what you do. It even matters what you think. Isn't it too much to keep track of what we do, what we think, how we react?


It reminds me of that song from Sunday school. "Trust and Obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey." 
One thing is for sure (to a certain extent at least, but to what extent I am unsure of), we can trust Jesus and forget about the rest. If we believe in him we shall never die. 

I think that means more than we think it means sometimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dirty Mind or Dirty Hands

Dirty Mind or Dirty Hands


Time and again, some other time or this time
I browse people's writings
What they've typed online
What they put out for others to see
If not I would assume they
Would put it on paper
Or keep it on their laptop
Or keep it on their tablet
Or keep it on their phone.

Recently I read some writings of an
Interpretation, what someone 
Thought that they thought was the thought
Behind what the Bible tells us about living 
Tells us about being a person believing in
God,Christ, in more than what we see.
What I noticed was this.
There were words
Ideas and illustrations
Recommending thoughts, lifestyles, and modes of life.

Sometimes and other times this time specifically
I thought of other people's writings
What they put for others to see
If not thought I actually said
Said it out loud in a room alone
Keep it on your laptop
Keep it on your tablet
Keep it on your phone.

Certainly, I agree with writing for public
Relating, what thoughts
May be inside, came inside, are put outside
Dealing with the Bible and life and Christ and the ghost
Inside of me and some others, that we can't see.
What I noticed was this.
There were these writings
Unrelateable and unestablished
With much admiration
Recommendations from the public readers, followers.

Kierkegaard wrote this
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
The thing is this, it must be lived.
Lived on the street, lived in the woods, lived inside, lived outside.
Not on your laptop
Not on your tablet
Not on your phone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week of Dreams

Dream on Tuesday night

I remember being in the New Life Christian Academy multi-purpose room. Still painted white with the different banners across the top. The alumni were getting together to play a game of basketball there.
 I saw Josh Hossler, Brian Karnowsowitz, and Ted Demerrit (who looked fairly old). They were wearing the old basketball uniforms. I had forgotten mine, or didn’t keep it. The game happened fast, real fast and we won. The thing is I didn’t get to play. I remembered telling someone that I could play in my normal clothes. I told Josh Hossler , “ It would have been nice to get a chance to play.” He started to cry. I told him not to bother about it. He stopped crying. I still felt somewhat disappointed. I was walking out to the truck (which was a blue F-150) and Tori Fite ran out and gave me a card in a white envelope.
 She said, “Don’t be burning yourself, you shouldn't hurt yourself like that”. I said I wouldn’t hurt myself. She went back in the school and I put the card in the door pocket of the truck-I woke up.

Wednesday night I had a dream
I was walking though the parking lot in St. Clair the one that has the movie theater that has been closed for twenty some years. I noticed a man was lying on the pavement and seemed to be hurt. I went over to him to help and recognized him. It was Steven Tyler, from Aerosmith.
I managed to get him to the hospital (there was no transport scene). We arrived at St John’s hospital on 12 mile rd. I took him in on a stretcher and the paramedics quickly took over.
 There were several nurses and doctors moving hurriedly about. Some seemed to know he was a celebrity, some were focused on their job of helping him. In time he was placed in his room and I went in to see him. His daughter Liv was there. She looked like she had been crying, saw me asked if I was the person who saved him and smiled giving me a hug. She said that she didn’t know what to say. Then she said, “thank you”.


The nurse had to run some tests and they came to wheel out Steven Tyler and Liv went with him. I must have been tired because shortly thereafter I woke up in the bed that had been next to his. I sat up; something seemed different. I noticed that I had on a white long sleeve shirt and began to feel confused. I shuffled out to the hall then to a waiting room. I noticed the nurses and orderlies were looking up keeping an eye on me but trying not to let me know they were keeping an eye on me. It was then I realized I needed to get out of there. I walked slowly toward the direction of my room picking up the pace a little as I noticed the exit sign. Turning the corner I looked up to notice a camera peering down the hall toward the exit door. As I began to jog toward the door I removed the white shirt, dropped it on the floor and exited the door. The street was completely unfamiliar, though it looked what I imagine a street in London would look like. I turned right and ran along the street noticing behind me several people chasing wearing white coats. I ran faster and lunged toward a flat top car and was able to get on top of it, unfortunately so did two of the men in white coats. Each grabbed a shoulder and-I woke up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Homeless Loitering

 

Homeless Loitering a Crime No More

As the unemployment rate hovers around ten percent in the United States and an increasing number of people are left unable to afford housing; the issue of homelessness and a larger, visible homeless population are presenting themselves to society anew. Some portions of society have decided to term this issue a blight and pursued the criminalization of homelessness. There is a social problem in many cities where the case of the homeless population loitering has become a substantial issue. This policy topic is to address the issue of homeless populations loitering and the fact that it has become a crime in many cities by dealing with laws and resources for the homeless population.

This policy topic specifically incorporates four social work values as described in the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.  This policy incorporates the value of service as it is designed to “help people in need and to address social problems” (The Association, 1999).  This would be met in helping people by providing additional safe places and shelter for the homeless population; also in addressing the social problem of the criminalization of homelessness by dealing with the laws.

The social work value of social justice would be incorporated as the policy addresses laws that local governments have set up. This would entail repealing certain current laws, enacting new laws, and changing the practices of cities and businesses.  This policy would also address societal thoughts and stereotypes directed toward the homeless population.

Dignity and worth of a person is a necessary aspect of all social work endeavors. This social work value is incorporated by the decriminalization of the homeless population loitering. In this respect a person would not be treated as a criminal and perhaps be viewed as a person of worth by standards of society. By keeping more of the homeless population out of the criminal system this will create opportunities for them to build “socially responsible self-determination” (The Association, 1999).

The importance of human relationships is incorporated in this policy in that were loitering decriminalized the homeless population and the housed population would have a higher frequency of interaction. With the creation of day centers increased social worker and the homeless population interaction could culminate in possible collaborative ventures.

Laws criminalizing the loitering of the homeless population are vast throughout 48 of the United States; controlled by local governments and businesses. “Through the passage of possibly unconstitutional laws, the "selective enforcement" of existing laws, arbitrary police practices, and discriminatory public regulations, people experiencing homelessness face overwhelming hardships in addition to their daily struggle for survival” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2004). These communities have laws that forbid sleeping, sitting, sharing of food, and standing for too long a period of time. These communities have set a “process of legislating penalties for the performance of life-sustaining functions in public” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2004).

Other communities create Business Improvement Districts and subsequently create limits on private and public space for the good of a business district. However, “regardless of the number of ordinances passed, homeless people still must eat, sleep, and survive in public because often no alternative is available to them” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2004). A publication created to help law enforcement officers deal with the homeless population has guidelines that negatively affect the homeless population by deterring loitering. It states cities should, “include central armrests on benches, slanted surfaces at the bases of walls, prickly vegetation in planter boxes, and narrow or pointed treatments on tops of fences and ledges. However, some observers of public spaces argue that the way to lessen the impact of loitering homeless people is to construct even more desirable sitting environments to attract more legitimate users, thus decreasing the ratio of homeless to legitimate users” (Chamard, S. 2010). Other cities have used the presents of business security guards to ask the homeless to “move along”.

Still, several communities have set up task forces to aid in decriminalizing homelessness including: Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. These task forces include such acts of advocacy as city attorney policies and programs, police protocols, police training, and referral programs to social services programs (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2004).

Several groups can be seen as stake holders in the work of this policy. The homeless are the primary stakeholders. They would be impacted by the policy primarily by decriminalization of loitering and the ability to “preform life sustaining functions in public” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2004).  Businesses will be affected either by the stigma of the homeless in public places or by increases traffic that may lead to sales. Pedestrians will be affected by being put in a position to deal more closely with the homeless population.  Law enforcement will be affected in that they will have an increased opportunity to pursue crimes that are causing harm to society. Social service agencies will be affected in that they may need to create new programs and may be in need of skills as they are working with a more empowered homeless population. City planners and governments will be affected in that many laws and policies will be reevaluated, repealed, and created.

In reviewing the policy with the five layer policy analysis model each aspect will bring complex issues. I have little experience with policy as it relates to decriminalizing the homeless loitering.  Perhaps the most challenging aspect for me will be the economics. It is reported, “federal spending for people who are homeless increased every year in the last decade, more than doubling to over $5 billion. This spending includes both targeted dollars in homeless-specific federal programs and the estimated spending for people who are homeless and using nontargeted federal programs” (Hombs, M. 2011). I am aware most issues are moved by the economics of a matter, but it is an aspect that I do not have much experience with. The political factors that will influence this policy that I am aware of are: lobbying for change of law, creation of public programs, or funding for private programs. I have little experience in the political realm. In dealing with the ideological factors, I have some experience in dealing with the homeless population and the stigma that some communities hold.  I believe changing businesses’ and the public’s attitudes towards the homeless population may be a significant challenge as many view them as a menace to organized society. Social movements to support this policy are beginning already. I am aware that California has a proposed Homeless Bill of Rights that is gaining support. I am also unaware of social welfare history that deals specifically with homeless loitering, though, I think the vagrancy laws of the past might relatable.

This policy could measure outcomes by these factors including: cost, quality of life, number of homeless deaths, crime rates, and number of homeless individuals in a community. Cost would be measured by state and local governments’ revenue for policy enactment, as well as local businesses income gains and losses. Quality of life could be measured by a set of standards or by surveys of individuals before and after policy enactment. Crime rates could be measured by local law enforcement agencies before and after policy enactment. The number of homeless in a community can be measured during homeless point in time counts before and after policy enactment. While these factors are multifaceted they would be a good starting point for outcomes of the policy.

Depending on the anticipations of specific outcome findings the policy will be approached differently.  Were it measured by the amount of homeless on the streets a different approach and different outcomes will be desired; that is it would tend to be more removal based. If this was the case the policy would alter dramatically; meaning the types of measurements used are fundamental to having a policy oriented toward the social worker and implementation of the social work core values.


 

References

Chamard, S. (2010). Homeless encampments. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Community

Oriented Policing Services.

Hombs, M. (2011). Modern homelessness a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.

Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Washington, D.C.: The Association.

Illegal to be homeless: The criminalization of homelessness in the United States : Illegal to be homeless

                2004 report. (2004). Washington, D.C. (1012 14th St., NW, Suite 600, Washington 20005):

                National Coalition for the Homeless.