Monday, November 17, 2014

33 Snowfish

Why didn't you tell me about Adam Rapp? That amazing young adult fiction author who writes about homelessness, drug addiction, and abuse. I zipped through his indescribably ugly and beautiful book 33 Snowfish. And let me tell you. I've been too busy lately to read. I'm working at the library. I'm taking care of our kid and our pets and our family. I'm teaching Sunday School. I'm coaching 3rd grade girls basketball. Come on! I don't have time to read.

But I couldn't help myself. Rapp's words suck you in. The story is sick and sublime. Go read it. Now. Basically it's a story of three runaways fleeing their ugly lives. Do not read it if you're squeamish about the dark realities of life. But if you can take it, if you're strong enough, read through til the surprisingly hopeful ending.

So you know how when you've just finished a book and everything around you seems to suddenly be related to it? Things all around you that you never noticed before? That's how it's been for me ever since I finished reading 33 Snowfish. Everywhere. I. Look. It's all I see. Thank God I have PTSD or I might not have learned the skills necessary to tolerate despicable life events. Honestly: I think that's why I'm so emotionally strong. I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse and other generic traumas of growing up in a dysfunctional family. I've overcome so much that my life now feels like a triumph. The better I feel about myself and the better I cope with my abused and bruised past, the better I am able to see others who are going through what I've been through and to find ways to help them.

You're that way too, aren't you? When you feel good aren't you more apt to feel like helping others. And when you feel like crap, aren't you more apt to not even see the misery of others in front of your eyes? Most of us are like that.

But not all of us are. Some people who struggle daily just to stay warm and fed and safe are still awakened to the plight of others. For example, watch this incredibly inspirational video about a homeless man sharing his meal:

Too often in our society people who are homeless are looked down upon by the well-homed. Fuckin' lazy bums. Get off the street. They live in the trash so they are of the trash. They're just gonna spend that dollar you gave 'em on liquor and drugs.

I had the unfortunate luck of sitting next to my husband, who was on his computer scrolling down his newsfeed, when something so hideous and wrong we simply had to stop and look at it flashed upon the screen. Selfies with homeless people. Seriously. Go look. It really is as disgusting as it sounds.

Jesus Fucking Christ! Is Jesus really going to have to come back to earth to set you motherfuckers straight? It is not cool to ridicule other human beings. Homeless people are people. They deserve just as much respect as anyone. The President. The Pope. Beyoncé. Even you. Jesus said stop being an asshole and documenting your fun adventures with a bum and go sell your phone and give the money to the poor. I'm paraphrasing.

But it's not just ignorant narcissists who are disrespecting homeless people. Today I read this bad news about the City Union Mission, a religious-based homeless shelter in Kansas City. I've been a fan of this charitable organization for some time. I've shopped at their thrift shop. I've blogged about the good they do. But now I'm pissed.

They've decided that they will not allow legally married same-sex couples to stay together at their facilities. I'm so angered by this injustice I felt compelled to create this petition. Please sign it. I'd like to deliver it to the decision makers at City Union Mission as soon as possible. If you'd like to contact them directly, here is their info:

City Union Mission
1100 E. 11th Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
(816) 566-5085

Of course, not all religious organizations hide behind their interpretation of The Bible when they discriminate against their fellow sisters and brothers and others. Some groups of religious people go out of their way to try to empathize with people who live without homes.

Recently my church, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, hosted a camp-out for the youth. Only instead of tents or cabins like at scout camp, these youths and their adults spent the night outside in cardboard boxes and tried to imagine what it would be like to never know where you were going to sleep that night. It was literally freezing out. And they survived. They learned to love more and judge less.

GCPC "Homeless for a Night"
photo courtesy of Christy Soule

There are many other organizations around, trying to make life better for homeless people. There's this great organization in Wisconsin called Occupy Madison that is helping homeless people build tiny houses. I don't know if it's a religious organization or not, but regardless, I hope that they let same-sex couples stay in a tiny stable for the night. 

When did it become the way things are that people who follow Christ say turn away your gay neighbors and irreligious government officials say no, you must treat them as equal human beings?