Murderers. Rapists. Pedophiles. Thieves.
They all slept inside last night. They play board games. They watch tv. They eat every day. I know it's prison and people hate being there. But at least, as a society, we take care of these people.
But homeless people. At 8am today in Akron Ohio it is 35 degrees. They slept outside last night.
Women, pregnant women, senior citizens, children, veterans, people with autism, schizophrenics . Every cross section of American society has representatives sleeping outside.
There is only one group of free people that is immune: People who currently have money.
If you have a job, or have some form of steady income, you are immune from sleeping on the street.
It doesn't matter how bad your addiction is. It doesn't matter how terrible a person you are. As long as you have money coming in, you get to sleep in doors.
People with money and convicted criminals... they are immune from homelessness.
People that have no money and have done nothing wrong that requires them to go to jail or prison, they are thrown out on the street.
This isn't about a system that mistakenly got broken. This is by design.
We are saying: You are ugly. You are stupid. Your street drugs are repulsive to us. You don't dress right. You don't talk right. We don't want you in our club. Get out!
You can see how liberals make fun of West Virginians (who fight all our wars for us), rednecks (who grow all our food for us), hillbillies, "crackheads", "white trash", fundamentalist Christians. The writing is on the wall. We liberals look down on all of these people while we lift up first generation immigrants and Muslims.
But Republicans are probably worse. They talk a good game about Christianity and low income white people. But look at what they actually do: They give massive tax cuts to rich people. Rich people are their favorite people. They might throw a bone to Christians and poor whites every once in a while. But that's just to keep them on the hook for votes. (At least Republicans give them this much. It's way better than what Democrats offer to these folks, which is just scorn and judgement.)
The truth is: America hates poor people. I know it. You know it. And most importantly, THEY know it.
We idolize rich people. We hate poor people. Everyone is somewhere on that scale. That's why we have to "keep up with the Jones'." We don't want to slip down the slope of wretched poverty.
I'm railing on this point for one reason: This is why we have rationalized that it's ok homeless people are suffering incredible pain and anguish on the streets of the richest country ever created in the history of humanity.
This is how we got here. We hate poor people.
Some people like to tell me that it's the drugs.
Granted, it's not lost on African Americans that no one cared one tiny bit when their kids were dying on the streets from crack. But now that white people's kids are dying from opiates suddenly everyone is up in arms over the "tragedy" of drug use in America.
We are meant to feel compassion for "Succession's" Kendall Roy, the son of a billionaire media mogul, who suffers from addiction:
But tell me what the message is when we see these endless before and after pictures of people using meth:
The fact of the matter is: that's not what most people who use meth look like. Do you know what they look like? Like everybody else. These before and after meth pictures are meant for one purpose: to repulse you.
This is judgement, plain and simple. A cocaine habit cost about $370/week. A meth habit cost about $37/week.
Rich people do coke. They are portrayed as beautiful but tragically troubled.
Poor people do meth. They are portrayed as ugly losers.
It's not about the drugs. It's about the people who do the drugs. When rich (and white) people do drugs it's a tragedy. When poor (and sometimes black) people do drugs it's disgusting.
We must realize that the reason we leave people to die on the streets of America is for one simple reason: they repulse us.
We are afraid of poor people.
Being poor is the greatest fear in America. We cower with our heads bent and our eyes down out of earth shattering fear that, with one wrong move, we too might face a fate worse than death: being poor.
We don't say anything about our deplorable heath care, our broken roads, our jobs that were outsourced to other countries. We're afraid of what they might do to us. "What if, God forbid, I lose my job because I took a stand?"
I think some people see me as some sort of strange unicorn-type person because I stand up for homeless people. It's true. Not many people are willing to push against the system that doles out these human rights atrocities to fellow Americans. It all makes me appear nearly saintly.
But I'm no saint. I'm just a guy. I'm just a guy who woke up one day and said, "What the hell is going on here? This isn't right!"
To me, I'm not what is shocking here. The shocking part of it all is that there are so few people out here standing up for these people. Or are standing up for anything.
It's like watching a car on fire with people in it. Of course I'm running to that car to get the people out. That's not the work of a "hero" or a "saint". That's the work of an average human being. That's what we're supposed to be doing.
Yet our leaders and our ministers and our priests... they all just sit in their buildings. Maybe they hand out a meal every so often. That's great and all. But when people are burning up in a car, a sandwich isn't going to really solve the problem.
Men, women and children slept outside last night as churches all over Akron and America locked their doors.
I don't know what is the greater atrocity: Watching people die on the streets or watching people lock up heated garages, churches and schools to sit empty while Americans freeze to death on the streets.
I often feel more pity for the clergy and leaders of America than I do for homeless people. They are truly the lost ones. How far behind have they left their God that it makes sense to lock their doors, particularly in the winter, to the poor and the needy?
They say it makes economic sense. Their wealthy parishioners would feel uncomfortable. Maybe they would leave.
I say it is better to have no church at all than to have a church that is based on the fear of losing money.
It has come to the point that it's not the homeless I'm nearly as worried about as it is everyone else.
We drive by beggars on the street and have big moral internal struggles about whether or not we should give them a dollar. Do you know what poor people do? They give them their last dollar. They give them their last cigarette. They give them a blanket. They give them anything they have to give.
It's the poor people that have lessons to teach us. We have nothing to teach them... other than holier-than-thou judgement and stinginess and fear and loathing.
I absolutely believe this is a test from God. It's like God is doing a survey to see if we've learned anything.
"Here's a person begging for anything on the street. What are you going to do?"
"Here's a person overdosing on opiates. What are you going to do?"
"Here's a person who can't afford medical treatment for their cancer. What are you going to do?"
We're failing the test.
Some of you are all excited about the second coming of Jesus. If you were God do you think we're ready to get another message? I see absolutely no evidence we've learned much of anything the first time Jesus showed up. I wouldn't send anything down to Earth yet, if I were God.
The salvation of humanity is through community. Of leaving no one behind.
There is absolutely no excuse, especially in America, for allowing fellow Americans to suffer so greatly because they don't have money. It's embarrassing, tragic and deplorable.
We have to admit that we have a prejudice against poor people. We judge them. We hate them. We are terrified of becoming them.
The only options we're giving these people are houses and apartments they can't afford. We do that because doing anything else is uncomfortable and people with money make all the rules.
This must change.
We, the judgmental, who live in our warm cozy houses are the danger in society. We are the problem in society. We are the disease that is expanding the divide between the rich and poor. We are the ones destroying our environment. We are the ones ignoring poverty. We are the ones with extra money and extra time and we're spending our extra time watching Netflix and spending our extra money at Amazon.
I'm telling you: WE are the problem. Not the poor. We have created the poor by isolating them and hating them.
We have much soul-searching to do. We have to stop looking outward for the problems of the world and start looking at ourselves. We created climate change. We created homeless people. We created drug addicts. If we can't understand that, we will never begin to understand how to fix any of these problems.