1) last week I
introduced you to Richard LeMieux, who wrote a book telling of his descent into
homelessness and the intriguing cast of characters he met in Bremerton,
week I continue with some observations I had after reading his book.
In previous years, some of the unfortunate, but worthy people
the reader meets in Breakfast at
Sally’s, might have been taken care of by generous individuals and groups. You
could say that Mr. LeMieux introduces us to the homeless “cream of the crop.” Many
of the people he describes are not acute addicts, severely mentally ill or
wanted by the police. Some are teenagers with wretched home lives who deserve
to find shelter in a safe environment. Others are individuals who would repay
an offer of room and board with hard work and integrity.
In my mind, they are among the victims of both an
expanding government and changes in social standards. One unintended
consequence of government yardsticks determining poverty and the insidious
nature of entitlements is that of dehumanizing those in need. Instead of being
our neighbors, they are statistics. No distinction is made between those who
are dangers to themselves and others, and those who simply need a loving,
helping hand. A bloated system imposes often-misguided regulations and the fear
of lawsuits. Instead of recognizing that people have both spiritual and
material needs – and that the former is more important than the latter –
government can only treat human beings as sophisticated animals who require a
zookeeper’s care. Government programs often unwittingly exact a great cost,
sometimes greater than the benefits they provide.
Society will always have a broad range of those who,
temporarily or permanently, “can’t make it.” Communities used to feel
responsibility for those among them to whom life dealt an unfortunate hand. However,
many of the “advances” of the past few decades have led to the diminishing of family
and neighborhood cohesiveness. So many people accept complicated environmental
theories that claim that a butterfly flapping its wings in China affects
weather patterns thousands of miles and many years away, but insist that
changing long-held moral guidelines brings no lasting consequences. I disagree.
Increased spending for social causes without repairing the social fabric will
be a losing battle.
Indeed, even though Mr. LeMieux has a horrendous
experience with one pastor and church, his needs and those of his companions
are overwhelmingly filled by churches and faith-driven organizations, such as
the Salvation Army. How can one not be depressed by knowing that the current
administration in Washington seems intent on repressing and harming these
faith-based groups? The Democrat Party’s focus seems to be on forcing traditional
Christians (and Jews) to renounce their beliefs as they relate to abortion and
homosexuality. Growing the economy and helping the poor (in contrast to using
them for political gain) seem unimportant in comparison to completely revamping
American culture and rejecting long-upheld values.
If accepting homosexuality and abortion becomes a litmus
test of being a “good American,” as it already has for being a “good Democrat,”
then faith-based organizations will find their abilities to function curtailed.
In the name of ‘caring’ ‘and ‘compassion,’ organizations that uphold traditional
values will need to be punished, never mind if the recipients of their charity
suffer. I have no doubt that if this plan succeeds the very organizations that
gave Mr. LeMieux and his friends succor will be less effective and strong in
the years ahead. I am sure that many good people will see my thinking as
illogical and over-the-top, but I think that a review of world history makes
Having finished this book, despite the fact that the
author’s life improves, I certainly did not find the joyous resolution that emerges
at the end of (the fictional books) Pride
and Prejudice or Anne of Green Gables.
If you have any optimistic thoughts or if you think my pessimism is overblown,
please do share your ideas in the comment section.