Thursday, July 22, 2010

Odds and Ends

It ain't cute
I posted an essay in Progressive Buddhism, titled "If you see the nice buddhists on the road, run over them with your tank."  The title pretty much explains the essay, though those who know the state of Western Buddhism and issues relating to the Buddho­blogo­sphere1 and Tricycle magazine might better understand some references.  Yes, I snarl and rant in the piece.

The title of the essay alludes to the idea, coming from ancient Chinese Zen [Ch'an], that "if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him," which means that you should not try to ape the (historical) Buddha, or closely pattern yourself to be like him.  Rather, you should become a buddha - a unique buddha - by practice that makes you less egoic or more compassionate, resulting, ultimately, hopefully, if you're lucky, in full-throttle enlightenment, which will make you the envy of your fitful Buddhist friends.
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The SafeGround crowd had their rally in Cesar Chavez Park on Tuesday.  I was there to pass out 35 fliers [which was as many as I could affort to create].  You can see the flier here, or by pressing the button "SafeGround Flier" on the green bar at the top of this page.

Per usual, when I do a flier-handout thing I have an interesting time.

Mark Merin was there, nattily dressed.  Smiling, he refused a flier that I offered.

John Krantz demanded a flier.  I told him no, they cost me 18¢ apiece and I only had a few left. I told him he knew where my website was where he could view what I wrote.  He came back with a quarter and said gruffly that that should more than cover my costs, so I sold him one and he left thinking he had gotten the best of me in the contretemps.

Garren, John [the former JV, now Green Hat], and SG's Jaime sat in a row on the grass.  Garren gave me an animated hand-sign that he explained was the surfer sign for "hang loose."  "A good thing?" I asked.  "Yes," he said.

A woman who introduced herself as David Moss's wife walked up to me, smiling broadly, and said she couldn't understand why I was doing this.  [Handing out fliers and resisting SafeGround's charms I guess is what she meant.]

David Moss is a methodist minister and a member of the feckless Board of Loaves & Fishes.  His fame, in my circle, comes from his fatuous attempt to somehow beat Libby Fernandez in a race to get arrested in protest of there being no legal homeless campground in Sacramento.  Moss won, getting himself arrested last September, winning Brownie points on the Sacramento Edam-cheese-and-cabernet Progressive-politics party circuit.

I told Ms. Moss that there were links online that proved the case, in the flier, that SafeGround was making a lot of effort to make America a communist country.  Her beaming smile never flagging, she said she was stumped trying to understanding why that mattered.  So, I told her donors had a right to know what SafeGround really was all about and I, then, just generally, repeated some of what I'd already written.  She continued to claim not to understand.

Libby was there.  She walked up to me and I asked if there were any dead babies yet.  She said she didn't understand, and I asked if the lack of formula had resulted in any deaths.  She said there was, indeed, an urgent need for formula.  She walked away, telling me I could still use Loaves & Fishes services - which I hadn't asked about.

Paula Lomazzi of SHOC started yelling and cussing at me when I booed when Libby came up to the stage to speak.  I 'returned' Paula's FU, which I regret.
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This morning, Loaves & Fishes did one of their usual treating-homeless-adult-people-like-toddlers things, that wastes adult homeless people's time and disrupts people's day.

A couple of guys ran after the gates were open at Friendship Park at 7am.  In 'retaliation' Tim and Jim hustled everybody [about 120 people, I'm guessing] out of the park and kept it closed for 15 minutes before reopening.

One guy, after we were outside the gates, again, said that he was upset because he had an appointment at the welfare office he needed to get to first thing.  It was a long walk and he was now worried he'd be late.  Someone suggested he hitchhike, but he, and others, said that didn't work, downtown.

I saw the running incident of the guy who directly prompted Tim to close the park.  Yes, he was running, but it was in an empty stretch of five yards of space.  There was absolutely no endangerment from his conduct.

Two years ago, I distributed a flier to homeless people, days after a similar park closure thing, then.  It is reproduced below.  I guess now the Nin quote at the bottom applies ever-more aptly to Friendship Park (and L&F) administration.  I cannot say, that today, I give Loaves & Fishes ANY credit for compassion, as I had nearly two years ago.


Your Time Has Value

Your Life Has Meaning

Last Friday morning, a few people, focused solely on their own wants or needs, rushed into Friendship Park after the gates opened, oblivious to safety considerations. It was the ill-thought determination of Park or L&F management that the park should then be evacuated and closed and that it (and other L&F services, such as Men’s Washroom) should remain closed for a period of thirty minutes.

This “toddler’s time out” imposed upon all the “guests” of the Park is demonstrative of a nanny-management philosophy in place at Loaves that treats the adult users of its services as irresponsible children.

Solely because of the big-hearted generosity of Sacramento-area individuals and businesses, Loaves & Fishes exists – as a facility to promote the well-being of people who have fallen on Hard Times. These individuals and businesses provide Loaves & Fishes with over $5,000,000 each year to improve the lives of displaced people like you and me.

By closing the park for thirty minutes, in an act of impetuosity, L&F imperils the ability of people to get to work or meet court dates or make it to other appointments or to otherwise achieve something or get full measure from their day. While no one doubts there is compassion at the heart of Loaves of Fishes, one has to wonder if the people in charge are enough aware of the implications of their acts and how fantastic and amazing and worthy of ‘a break’ the people they serve are. Basically, Loaves has abundant heart, but inadequate head; compassion, but not wisdom.

Regular users of Loaves’ services are greatly appreciative of what they receive and view what they receive as life-saving. Absent Loaves and Fishes, many of us would go hungry, left on the mean streets with a foul body odor, in misery and despair. But while this is true, it is fair to ask if the Loaves and Fishes operation is nearly as good as it should be and if it is getting enough “bang for the buck” from the donations it receives.

Loaves and Fishes operating culture believes in lines and queues, like the welfare office; a parent-to-child transactional mode, like the welfare office; punishing all for the “misbehavior” of a few, like kindergarten teachers and Nazis in Poland. If there was greater appreciation for poor people’s lives, on high, I think there would be motivation to fix these very evident flaws of operation.

Life is a process of ‘becoming,’ a combination of
states we have to go through.
Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state
and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
-- Anais Nin


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1 I humbly lay claim to having coined this word while blogging Blogmandu which was a Buddhism blogging meta-blog. Blogmandu provided news about interesting Buddhism blogs and posts and issues that were aswirl in the Buddhism end of the worldwide blogging pool.

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