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Jumping up and down, again, on Pastor Rick Cole's neck

Cover of the Nov. 6
Sacramento News & Review

Ay, carumba.

Pastor Rick Cole’s stunt is alive, alive. Though it has been a half month since his two-week performance ended lamely playing a homeless person in front of the local press – to promote himself, his church and raise money – Cole is featured in a full-page interview in this week’s SN&R. The fawning publisher of the cannabis-and-masturbatory-phonecall-ads-filled tabloid, Jeff vonKaenel, provides the set-up questions for Cole to present himself, again, as a modern-day saint for weathering the degradations, the humiliations, the pain and sorrow of dreaded homelessness for a sprightly fortnight. [So as not to be misunderstood: I am mocking King Cole in the last half of the last sentence in this paragraph.]

A couple Q&As near the end of the interview are revealing.

In one of them, Cole is asked how he is different as a result of his two-week sojourn, but his answer swerves near instantly into exposing how he feels about homeless people.
… we categorize homeless people as people we can’t really help, like they deserve what they got. … There is a large segment of the homeless population that doesn’t want to stay in homelessness; they’re looking for a way out. They need some help, somebody to point the way to job training, point the way to rehab if they’re stuck in drugs and alcohol, to point the way to shelter. There’s a lot of success stories within the care of homelessness of seeing people getting on their feet again. … They’re not bad people.
From my years of experience being homeless in downtown Sacramento, I would say that there are next-to-zero homeless people who would not rather be housed and doing different things that watch their lives waste away under the drudgery of queues and lines and waiting that homelessness imposes on them. Thus that “large segment” that the imposter homeless guy, Cole, talks about is just about everybody, not just some “segment” of the homeless population.

Then in his subsequent sentences, Cole supposes homeless people are retarded babies: that don’t know about the programs, the social workers, the tangled webs of appointments that are out there for homeless folk to utilize to seek to get their head together and to hope to find a meaningful, merrier life.

Of course, when Cole was playing at being homeless, he didn't have to get a chest X-ray, or think about all his belongs and furniture in storage being auctioned off by the storage place, or find that friends and family from his “better days” had cut him loose, or sleep on the floor of some damn church or really have to worry much at all. Cole’s deprivations were only those HE CHOSE to have while his real-life pals were around guarding him. Cole managed as part of his performance to go hungry for a day in downtown Sacramento. That can be hard to do. Real live homeless people quickly learn where food can be found and make it a central plan of their day to get to where the meals are. Real live homeless people are adroit; they aren't playing around.

Something like two-thirds of the homeless people in the extended downtown Sacramento area are capable, functioning adults. Others aren’t very worldly; these are the folks who believe UGM preachers’ every word, including crapola like the idea that the sun orbits the earth and that the Grand Canyon is proof of the Great Flood. There are rascals in the mix, too; guys who greatly enjoy stealing things and messing up business owners’ property. And there are easily identifiable psychopaths and narcissists, in percentages of the population that rival Wall Street or Hollywood or Congress or the Sacramento homeless-help industry.

Homeless people are absolutely NOT bad people. They are people, a great many of whom have lived through absurdly loveless, violent, abusive and difficult childhoods. As a result – in what may seem counter-intuitive – they, in large number, become lousy parents, themselves. This is so because how ever depraved our parents were, we all tend to copy our parents' skills and methods when we have children.

Even the psychopaths and extreme narcissists among the homeless are not “bad people.” Through no fault of their own, via genetic traits, and experiences that can mold the physical properties of the brain, they are for the most part walled off from experiencing compassion for others’ suffering, and, thus, cannot truly understand the lives of most people (though, in the case of the psychopaths, they are EXPERT at manipulating others). Thus, while the psychopaths and narcissists are difficult to deal with and can harm others, they are fully human (of course), yet very imperfect vessels for the experience of existing as humans.

The last Q&A item was this:
vonKaenel: In your mind, would Jesus be saying, “Let’s rescind tax cuts to the wealthy so we can help the poor”? 
Cole: I think if that’s an avenue that would enable us to help the poor, it’s certainly worth exploring.
Ha! I think that “Jesus the Tax Accountant” would cop out and say, “Render to Washington [the guy on the nickel and one-dollar bill and a city out on the East Coast] the things that are Washington’s, and to the church give us that 10%, pronto.”

It is supposedly the case that setting up homeless people in homes with ways and means to work (if they’re able) such to find meaning for their lives, and engage in wholly healthy relationships with others would pay for itself, in contrast to the enormous expense (and great waste) in having folks live in shelters and out on the streets as subjects of aid from the wasteful and usually incompetent homeless charities. Thus, increasing the tax on wealthy folks (or on anybody) is unnecessary as a function of “help(ing) the (homeless) poor.” The working poor would, of course, be best helped by a substantial rise in the minimum wage (as SN&R shows us in a well-written article this week).

But if money is needed to help the poor, how about discontinuing the practice of giving hundreds of millions of dollars to billionaires to plant their sports team in our metropolis that results in millions of dollars paid to athletes who will NOT be living in or spending much money in Sacramento? To do this, how about if we pass a city ordinance and a county ordinance that just says "Stop doing stupid stuff."

And as for the Sacramento News and Review's vonKaenel: Your publication is a bottom-feeder so far as raking in advertisers is concerned. I do understand that as an "alternative press" that is necessary for you to stay in business. But what is the point of having such a business if all you want to do is publish pap? Humiliate yourselves with the ads you publish; redeem yourselves with articles that are substantive -- not ass-kissing pablum.


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