Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pennies From Heaven

So I ran into this lady in downtown Washington, D.C.


She posed for the picture and made sure to line up the top and the bottom posters to get it just right


It says:

“Not One Penny In Tax Cuts For The Rich”


Makes intuitive sense doesn’t it: the rich already are blessed with…riches!


Any more pennies in their war chest is sort of a drop in the billionaire bucket. 


With tax reform is on the table now…we need tax relief for the middle class and to grow the economy. 


The rich really do not need to get any richer.


Especially with a national debt over $20 trillion already–and not including future entitlement obligations that exceed projected revenue for social security and medicare, which bring the debt in excess of $70 trillion!). 


The gamble with this whole tax reform plan is that the $1.5 trillion or so in proposed tax cuts over 10 years translates into a much bigger economic expansion that makes up for that revenue loss to the government and more. 


If not, well then Uncle Sam bet wrong and our annual deficit gets bigger and bigger (already $666 billion in FY 2017).


Tax cuts for the rich today and estate tax cuts to pass wealth between generations–when they impact the top 1% are ridiculously targeted to those who really don’t need it, and many of the decent ones, like Warren Buffetdon’t even want it


Let’s have a heart and help the people that really need the help–let’s narrow the growing divide between the haves and the have nots, and move to eliminate the class system that elevates one child of G-d over another. 


– While some live in McMansions, others are homeless.


– While some eat steak and drink expensive bottles of wine every night, others go hungry and thirsty.


– While some wear fancy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and different outfits every day, others don’t have a clean shirt on their back. 


It’s nice to think that some “deserve it” more than others, but we also have to think who really needs it more. 


And if the pennies do ultimately come from Heaven (as all blessings do), then let us distribute these with compassion and lovingkindness as we know our Creator would want us to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Treating The Homeless With Dignity

I love this organization, Think Dignity.


They do hands-on advocacy and activism to help the homeless. 


From providing them storage lockers, bathrooms, showers, haircuts/shaves, clothing boutique, hygiene products (e.g. tampons etc.), drinking water, legal services, and more.

While others looks away, they jump in to actually do something real.

They actually bring mobile showers to them!

The video show on the left, one person living a regular life with a home, job, and everything they need, and on the right, another person down on their luck, homeless and needy.

Both are G-d’s creatures–one just needs a fresh start!

At the end of the video, it says:

Don’t Look Away.
Think Love.
Think Hope.
Think Strength.
Think Worth.
Think Dignity. 

I hope you are truly moved in the same way that I am by this organization and their beautiful mission and meaningful outreach activities. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Gazillions Baby!

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So being a millionaire is no longer anything.


You’re still considered sort of a poor schlub!


Even a billionaire is not such a big deal anymore. 


It takes at least $2 billion to make it unto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans List


Further, a recent episode of CNBC Filthy Rich Guide asks who will become the world’s first trillionaire!


They say trillionaire as in a number with “4 commas”–never really thought of it that way.


…but it’s definitely a big,(1) big,(2) big,(3) big,(4) big number.


Jeff Bezos of Amazon with $90 billion currently in the bank and growing fast is forecasted to be the one who will make it. 


So no longer are we betting on which mega corporation–Apple (with a current value of almost $830 billion)–will become the first trillion dollar company.


We are talking individuals with that much moolah too. 


So with the median net worth of Americans a measly $69 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder that billionaires like Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank) calls more than one entreprenuer looking for an investment, a cockroach!


What’s a shame is not only the complete social inequity and class system that we have and that continues to grow with those in McMansions and others homeless, but also that so many can’t see that what’s really important is not the beautiful pocketbook full of money, but the decent soul filled with good deeds! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

People Literally Eating Garbage

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So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 


They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 


I was choking watching this–it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 


Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 


And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 


They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 


When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don’t stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).


G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is Man An Angel or Beast

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So is man an angel or a beast?


On one hand, we see small and great acts of love, kindness and generosity. 


People feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, donating clothes to the poverty-stricken, and standing up to defend those that are abused, discriminated against, and victimized.


Every day is an opportunity to be a gracious, heavenly angel!


At the same time, we are witness to horrible acts of hate, cruelty and inhumanity.


The strong preying off and committing gross acts of violence against the weak, the rich elitists taking from the poor lower-class, the powerful violating the human rights of the masses and ruling with a brutal iron fist. 


Every day is the possibility to act the vicious, lowly beast!


It’s a choice as we stand here teetering on the world we are injected into. 


The angel and the beast fight within us. 


Our souls yearn to emulate the spirit of our Holy Creator, while our bodies look for raw physical and material satisfaction. 


It is truly a battle that rages within us, and can tear any or all of us apart. 


Yet, our mission is for good to overcome evil–in everyday small and large ways.  


To fight the urges that torment us and to rise, rise, with the wings of an angel to reach our potential and fulfill our destiny. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Smell The Roses

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I am a big proponent of stopping to smell the roses. 


These purple, yellow, red, and pink flowers were sitting on the counter in Whole Foods, and I had to stop, back up, and take this amazing photo.


They were absolutely gorgeous!


Sometimes, I can’t believe the beautiful things and people that G-d has made. 


We’re part of a most-amazing and perfect world. 


Of course, there are also hardships and suffering in this world – illness, disability, hunger, homelessness, violence, loneliness, and loss. 


Perhaps, these are the most difficult of things for us as human beings to reconcile with the beautiful world that G-d has set us in. 


While surrounded by beauty, people are also beset by life’s many challenges. 


Maybe all the more reason to stop and smell the roses even for just a moment–to enjoy the spirit of life and of our amazing Creator, and the opportunity to make the most of it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Homeless and Hungry

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I took this photo in Washington, DC.


Two statues of back-to-back homeless people in the grit on the sidewalk.


They sit as everyone rushes on past them–many stone faced as well as too many stone hearted.


In this case, someone put the newspaper Street Sense on the lap of the statue. 


As many in DC, the homeless are trying to get back on their feet in this case by writing articles for and selling this newspaper about homelessness, poverty, and social issues. 


Impressive that they sell about 16,000 of the biweekly 16-page paper and that the homeless vendors make about $45 per day doing this. 


Like this picture of the homeless on the street, bracing back against each other and sort of huddled up among the masses of the fortunate around them, I imagine that they must really feel like these statues–odd, uncomfortable, lost, scared, and painted over by society that marks them as dirty, dangerous, and unwanted.


But these homeless and hungry are G-d’s children, no less than any of us!


I applaud Street Sense and other advocates and activists that see, hear, and feel beyond themselves and help the needy and downtrodden. 


Helping these people in desperate need is truly G-d’s work, and like recently sainted, Mother Teresa, is an act of unbelievable kindness and mercy that we can all learn from and should emulate. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Poverty Is An Illness

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Poverty is not just a phenomenon of poor, homeless and hungry people. 

It is a social and economic epidemic, and here are some sobering statistics:

– “Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population–more than 3 billion people–live on less than $2.50 a day.”

– More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty–less than $1.25 a day.”

– “1 Billion children worldwide are living in poverty…and 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted…due to malnutrition.”

– “1/4 of all humans live without electricity.”

– “80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.”

Those empty stomachs, battered roofs, and tattered clothes are leaving indelible marks on so many impoverished people, yet many at the other end of the spectrum are living so high and mighty…it’s a crazy contrast that fails to make any sense. 

Passing by the stronghold buildings of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., I found these striking “End Poverty” t-shirts that they had in their storefront–although I couldn’t help think how far removed this place was from this sorry state of global poverty and chaotic and violent world affairs. 

We are living in an incredible bubble, and while I often hear how grateful people are to be here and have “all this,” somehow I just don’t think we fully get it what’s going on out there! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting “Unf*cked”

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So on July 4th, I wrote and did a short video about how messed (f*cked) up things are in the world today (of course, technology-aside), and I advocated for people being a good influence and for constructive change. 

On the positive side, I saw this neat bumper sticker to “Unf*ck The World,” and I checked out their website utwnow.org

It was impressive to see people advocating for, banding together, and engaging to do good things to help others such as assist the homelessness by giving them haircuts, doing laundry, providing “mobile hygiene,” and helping with a thrift shop and job opportunities.  

In contrast again, it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal today, there was an editorial on how Brexit (Britian leaving the EU) has nothing on Amexit (America’s disengagement from global affairs). 

Around the world, there is cause for not only pause, but great concern.

– From allowing Syria to cross the red line in using chemical weapons (on civilians!) to the recommendation to not charge the former First Lady, we are in moral and leadership retreat.

– Russia takes over Crimea and agitates in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, while China continues its island buildup in the strategic South China Sea.  

– ISIS continues to hold ground across the Middle East and Northern Africa and attacks targets literally everywhere in the world and routinely takes, enslaves, and sells women to the highest bidder on the Internet.

– North Korea and Iran test ballistic missiles, and nukes are a forgone conclusion for them. 

– South America and Europe are in economic and political turmoil with varying degrees of recessions, runaway inflation, shortages, impeachment proceedings, voter recalls, and fractioning. 

– The U.S. is struggling to maintain its leadership role as we fluctuate between recognizing the dire need and pulling back all around. 

In the election cycle, I think just about every single person I have heard from now says in near hopelessness something like, “If only there was another candidate that I could vote for.”

What we can do locally to help–and certainly there is a lot more to do there with poverty and homelessness–perhaps people can do nationally and globally in demanding more–not material things, but rather a real caring about others and not just ourselves, a genuine discourse on policy and not just punch lines for the next election or media soundbite, a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a gaming the system one, and a big vision to settle the stars, cure vicious diseases, pull everyone out of poverty, and resolve endless cycles of global conflicts.

Do you hear much of anything on this these days and is anyone taking the high ground or is it just who is more crooked and untrustworthy–this cannot be the answer. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)