I was homeless for years. Slept on the sidewalk, ate from the garbage, cashed in cans to pay for showers, and to wash the few clothes and bedding I owned. This was not by choice but circumstance as I was injured from working seven days a week to survive in SoCal and could barely lift my arms. No agency cared. No one had room for me on their couch or money to feed me. During that time, I traveled alone and refused to become one of the lost. When I stood in line for a free meal I said please and thank you and avoided becoming buddies with those who were there by choice. I was assaulted several times for being a stuck-up snob who didn’t belong to the community of parasites. I kept myself clean, never begged for spare change and avoided criminal behavior. You could often find me sitting in the sun reading a book gleaned from someone’s recycling bin. While waiting for my body to heal I never surrendered my dignity.
As soon as I was able to resume working, I did so and applied myself diligently to every given task. I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps and a series of fortunate encounters with people who saw my struggle and cared. When the age for retirement arrived, I fell short of the threshold for Social Security benefits and continued working until I’d paid in enough of my earnings to qualify for a meager stipend. These days that check barely pays my rent so I’ve been forced to rely on the Food Stamps program to put food in my mouth. Yes, I could work, but would be penalized for doing so. The greatest advantage I’ve gained by being dirt poor is free access to health care. Without it, my aging process would be an exercise in suffering and pain.
Now that this administration seeks to disassemble Social Security, deny universal health care, and roll back food programs for the elderly, I and millions of others are being scheduled for the great die off. Evicted from our homes, unable to access medication, and unlike myself, lacking skills to weather life’s storms, the streets will be littered with corpses of people who toiled for years to earn their late life comfort.
These days patriotism is equated with military service where one goes and kills for their country. What if true patriotism is standing firm at one’s job despite all obstacles? Caring enough to go without sleep to restore power so babies don’t die from freezing temperatures and many other heroic acts. What if the true patriots paid into a system that is now being pillaged by uncaring robber barons who sneer at cries for equality? We’ve been manipulated to bare our fangs to anyone unlike us while our rights and freedoms are stripped away. If asked, most people couldn’t give a good reason for hating others. Their litany has been injected by outside forces and defies logic.
I probably won’t survive the streets this time due to my need for medications and age but will give it my best effort. No act of tyranny will silence my defiant howl nor break my spirit. Should I die in the gutter, my will to live shall remain unbroken. Meanwhile, I hope for a return to sanity and some semblance of humanism but am prepared to face the fact of an uncaring society. As always, I wish you peace and prosperity. Mizeta