Plight of the Porta-Potties

” … everyone on this earth has to go to the bathroom.”

Somewhere in the southern California city of Anaheim is a dusty encampment that’s home to hundreds of men, women and children. They live in tents and other makeshift shelters and do what they can to survive.

Recently, an important part of their simple living was taken from them when the city confiscated three porta-potties and locked them up in a storage facility. Now, these homeless individuals have nowhere to relieve themselves except in the bushes, or in buckets, or in the cramped privacy of their own tents. (Read more about their plight here.)

There is an old proverb, used by believers and nonbelievers alike, that goes like this: “There but for the grace of God go I.” 

The truth behind this statement is obviously being ignored by those who live in comfortable homes with plenty of food on the table … and one or more (indoor) bathrooms.

What adds to the insensitivity of this scenario is the porta-potties were purchased with donations and set up by local activist groups. In addition, money was raised to have them pumped and cleaned.

Yet “the city” in its all-knowing wisdom removed them because the installers had no permit! As one city official commented, “The toilets pose a health and safety concern and were placed … without permission.” (I couldn’t help but wonder about the “health concerns” that will result when people must relieve themselves in nearby streams and river beds.)

As the homeless advocate pointed out: “Sickness and disease will spread among homeless men, women, and children that cannot wash their hands. This is a group of people that is being left to die due to their government’s depraved indifference.” (emphasis added)

I apologize if this posting has offended your sensitivities. However, if you can come up with a way to avoid the natural process described in the opening quote, you may be in line for a Nobel Prize.


Culture Shock

The following is from a post written by “Emma.” She explains that within a few years after migrating to the U.S. from Poland (over 25 years ago), she wrote a piece that described her feelings at the time. While her entire post is quite touching, for me this particular entry from her earlier piece really hit home.

The first one [stage of adjustment] was related to a tremendous culture shock – everything was so different that not being able to understand, I despised it. I hated everything: food lacking taste and full of preservatives; huge, ugly cars; commercials on TV and in magazines; being called by my first name, the striking omnipresent urge to impress everybody around with one’s possessions and status. My first impression of America was depressing: it seemed to be a country being destroyed by mighty commercialism, and deeply split along the lines of gender, race and class. A place populated by salesmen, where everybody was in the never ending process of buying or selling something with the highest profit, hardly appeared friendly or hospitable. Those temporarily not involved in the selling circuit were busy trying to get in touch with their inner victim.

I don’t think many of us can deny that her “culture shock” aptly describes the American way of life. And it’s not very flattering.

While the post is personal, she offers a bit of political insight by showing how her feelings/experiences were/are similar to “Trumpism.”

I urge you to read the entire post.

Religion to the Rescue

life buoyA month or so back, a local couple, after spending time on the Oregon coast and becoming engaged, were on their way home when they were involved in a car accident.  Tragically, the accident took the life of the newly-engaged young woman. Her new husband-to-be suffered neck and brain injuries and was nearly paralyzed. He has now recovered enough that he’s been able to return to work (finance manager), but has several surgeries still in store for him.

In a follow-up article about the incident, a news reporter from the local paper interviewed the young man. He is unable to remember driving home or anything about the accident. The reports are that he entered the center turn lane, apparently to pull into a small community located off the highway, and crashed head-on into an oncoming car. Some people who happened upon the crash pulled the couple out of the burning vehicle and reported each reached out and grabbed the other’s hand as they lay on the ground. Both were transported to the closest hospital, where the young lady was pronounced dead.

In the interview, the fellow reported that although he’s getting better physically, it’s been much harder to mend emotionally.

And then he commented (and this is the point of my post) that while growing up, life for him was very matter of fact and logical. He felt no need for religion or faith. However, after the accident, he said he felt faith was his only real option. Rather than find comfort in, say, alcoholism or drugs, he chose to find strength and comfort from God.

Such a transition in worldview is not unusual because this is how the religious world paints the portrait of “God” – the helper, the comforter, the one who takes away the pain of life. What most fail to recognize is the power to heal (emotionally and physically) is within ourselves. We don’t need some supernatural power to step in and make it all better (besides, in reality, it can’t).

Certainly, circumstances often make this life a very rough road to travel, but as many, many others have proven (my mind goes to Zoe, Victoria, and Ruth), it can be done. I just find it sad that so many fail to recognize this.

What a Privilege

I just read a quote by Marcus Aurelius:

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marcus and I think a lot alike.

Rarely does a night pass that I don’t look up at the stars and think to myself how grateful I am to be a part of this magnificent universe, to have a roof over my head, to be healthy, to enjoy the love of family and friends (and my little mutt).

And in the morning … I follow Marcus’ advice.

I don’t know why I’m here on this planet. I’m just thankful that I am.

I know that one day I’ll leave this place. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about … and I may rage into that good night. But hopefully, I’ll be at peace and remember how wonderful, and what a privilege, it was to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Guns Don’t Kill People …


You know the rest of the line.

OK, so I have a question. If “people kill people,” then why don’t those “people” who are out to kill other people use a hand grenade? Oh wait. Those are illegal. But you CAN get a permit (in some states) … after you pay a $200 fee and go through an extensive background check by the FBI, who then passes on the information to the ATF. If you are finally approved, you will get the required stamp and paperwork so you can go to a dealer and purchase a hand grenade. Too much trouble? Too much time involved? Hmmm. Could this be why people aren’t mass murdered in the U.S. with hand grenades?

Well then, why don’t “people” use a machete? Certainly it would do the trick. Just swing it around a few times and you’d probably be able to kill a number of individuals. Oh wait. A machete is a rather obvious weapon to carry. But then, so is an assault rifle. Hmmm.  Maybe it would work after all. You might not be able to kill as many people as you would with a gun, but it could accomplish your purpose.

Some “people” have used samurai swords to kill others. Not quite as effective for mass killings. And again, it’s a pretty visible weapon. Definitely not something you could stick under your coat or jam in your pocket on your way to a murdering spree. But it’s a possibility.

Oh! I have it! “People” could use a few sticks of dynamite! Easily hidden. Lightweight. All you need is a good lighter and a strong throwing arm. Better yet, sneak into the location where you hope to kill other people and plant several pounds of dynamite, along with the means to blow it all up at the opportune time (i.e., Bath School disaster, 1927). Of course, this would take planning. Definitely not a spur-of-the-moment decision like grabbing a gun or two.

I have to admit. The gun advocates are correct. Guns don’t kill people (actually, it’s the bullets that kill them). And neither do other inanimate objects like grenades, machetes, swords, or dynamite. But the point that’s being missed (or ignored) is that it’s guns that the “people” are choosing to use. Preferably guns that kill as many people as possible in a very short amount of time.

A very close friend of mine who collects guns says establishing new gun laws is not going to change anything. He may be right. But can’t we at least try to come up with something  to stop “people” from using guns to commit these horrendous crimes against innocent people?