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If We Street People Don't Fight Back, We're Culpable for Our Own Misery!

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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"Americans, let's face it: We've been a spoiled country for a long time.  Do you know what the number one health risk in America is?  Obesity. Obesity!  They say we're in the middle of an obesity epidemic.  An epidemic like it is polio.  Like we'll be telling our grand kids about it one day.  The Great Obesity Epidemic of 2004.  'How'd you get through it grandpa?'  'Oh, it was horrible Johnny, there was cheesecake and pork chops everywhere.'"

Greg Giraldo (Comedian/Harvard Law School Graduate)

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In a recent previous article, I wrote about a "Compassionate Sidewalks" proposal before the Berkeley (Calif.) city council that aims both at helping homeless people and enforcing rules of good behavior in the streets. In discussing the proposal, I referred to an article in the Berkeley Voice entitled "Sidewalks Plan Spurs Debate." I soon realized, however, that there was just too much in that article to get all my own responses to it down in one shot.  I could have, sure. But the piece would have been way too long, and way too long is only good in bed and when horses come in at a 20:1 shot. Hence, this follow-up to that article: Part II.  

Let me start with two additional statements made in a city council hearing about the Sidewalks proposal that are quoted in The Berkeley Voice:


"'Basically, I'd say that problematic behaviors are our No. 1 priority rather than rehashing a lot of the 'where do we spend our money?' in terms of homeless services," he said, contending that many of the people who act out on Telegraph Avenue are housed and therefore, 'housing is not a solution for a lot of them.'"


"Peterson asked the council to address 'possible consideration of new behavior laws.'"

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Roland Peterson (Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District)

http://www.telegraphberkeley.org/
So, that is your reasoning for not housing folks you complain about, who are sitting on the sidewalk in front of your businesses?  And people wonder why nothing ever gets accomplished!

"Child, please!", as a friend of mine used to screech any time she heard the distinct sound of flagrant nonsense. This comes from the same creative mind that also said we should turn People's Park into a "monument of the 'civil rights movement.'" That way they could remove homeless people, some of them Veterans of Foreign Wars, and side-step the violation of their civil rights. Is that... irony?  Or,... idiocy?

At least The Berkeley Voice shows us how this stuff works. They spell it all out for us to digest, elucidating the end game of our civic leaders and why it is they never handle a problem. These folks are either duplicitous, or they're the most inept group of people on the planet. If people can't figure out how to manage a problem that has been around this long, it tells me one of two things: Either they aren't trying; or they're purposely trying to derail real solutions for some monetary or political gain.

Let's face it, people. We've been lied to for a long time now. The real "revelation," though, comes in finding out just how vast the interests opposing us really are. Some of us have always known, but it would be nice to see just how deep that pot goes.

To a certain extent, people have always known that their government was up to no good, but we rationalize our suspicions by balancing the notion of a necessary "common good " with our own myopic needs and ends. Let's not sugar-coat this stuff. Life is more about us than it's not about us. But once we lose confidence in those we entrust the common good to; once we begin to see just how deep and heinously things are being carried out in our name: that's when we have to stand up. Otherwise, we're culpable for our own misery. 

The Lessons of History

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The Allied Forces, along with American Troops, made German citizens walk through the wake of their compliance to Nazism after the liberation of the death camps. This was to show that ordinary people were as complicit and just as guilty as the SS in forcing women, children, and men into starvation, gas showers, and burning furnace ovens. I know this, because it was hammered into my head growing up in this nation. I remember lessons that graphic. Those images and the conditions that produced them stuck with me.

[See: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/karthik/files/2011/04/HIST-1572-Analysis-of-Nazi-Propaganda-KNarayanaswami.pdf.]

This stuff never pops up quietly in your mind, but it does come in just under the radar. And all the phony offense people like to take any time the wrongs of our own government are aptly compared to historical horrors just perpetuates further the sense of wrong felt by contemporary victims. Those in power, however, like to use those phony emotional reactions as cover to silence dissent and push their agenda forward. They don't want people seeing what they're doing. 

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).

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