the homeless Jesus ministers to a leper
no good deed goes unpunished
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Today is Easter Sunday, the day Jesus came out of the tomb in the Gospels and took up where he had left off, doing his best to model and teach other people how to live differently from the way they had been living, from the way society went about things. Instead, doing unto others as they would have done unto them; turning the other cheek; loving, praying for, and doing good to their enemies; giving someone their coat, if only their shirt is asked for; going two miles with others, if only one mile is requested; asking not back for their goods taken by others; settling on the way to court, instead of letting a judge decide it; doing for the poor, the lame, the sick, the jailed, is doing it for him – Jesus.
John Donnelly, of Key Largo, sent me this today:
2,500 homeless fed in Miami over Easter weekend
The Associated Press
MIAMI — The Miami Rescue Mission is making Easter brighter for some families.
Thousands of Miami’s poorest were given a hot meal and medical care to celebrate Easter.
The Miami Rescue Mission served over 2,500 Thanksgiving Meals at parties in three different South Florida locations on Good Friday. Participants were also given haircuts, access to showers and foot care from podiatry students at Barry University. Students also volunteered to wash participants’ feet.
Over 500 Easter baskets were also given to the children who attended.
Yesterday, as I talked with a street artist I know somewhat in front of LaConcha Hotel on Duval Street about Tuesday night’s special city commission meeting for the new noise ordinance,
a Harley came by blasting us, and everyone else, so loudly that we could not hear what we were saying to each other. I said, wouldn’t you like to use a water pistol on that fellow? He said, like a fire hose? I said, yeah, like a fire hose.
Then, as if on cue, a pickup truck came by playing a deep bass, which was not all that loud but probably could be heard and felt for several blocks; and with the bass was a rap-like music. I said, use the fire hose on that, too. The fellow said he liked it. I said, the rap is music, the bass is not, it’s noise, and it penetrates. The fellow said, still, he liked it.
I let it go.
For me, the Harley, the bass, were weapons, used to express something terrible buried in the soul of the user of the weapons. Rage, pain, which they shared with, nay, inflicted on everyone around them. Doing to others what was done to them, which caused such great rage and pain inside of them. Maybe instead, they might ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”
Another Duval Street artist just down the way told me a little while later yesterday that Jesus died for all of our sins, and if we believe that, and in him, the Son of God, we are saved – it’s that simple. I said, how did Jesus die for his and my sins two thousand years ago, when he and I had not yet been born and sinned? What about sins we have committed in our own lives? What about sins we will commit in the future? All of that is erased because we believe in that simple salvation formula, even if we trample everything Jesus modeled and taught two thousand years ago?
I said, the way I look at it, our belief in Jesus is measured by how we do as he did and taught. To the extent we follow his lead, we are saved by him. To the extent we follow his lead, we believe in him. Jesus himself in the Gospels said as much, when he said, A man who hears my sayings and does them is like a wise man who builds his house on rock and when the flood comes the house stands fast; but a man who hears my sayings and does not do them is like a foolish man who builds his house on sand and when the flood comes the house falls down and how great is that fall!
Jesus in the Gospels told his disciples, if they abide in him, they will come to know the truth, and the truth will set them free. In the Gospels, Jesus demonstrated many times that the truth needs to be told regardless of how it is received by others; regardless of the blowback to the speaker of the truth. For Jesus in the Gospels speaking the truth, we have this day to remember him all around this planet; we have a planetary calendar which dates back to when he was said to have been born, around 2,014 years ago. No person in recorded history came anywhere close to making the impact Jesus made on this planet, but even he, were he able to speak today, would say, “They heard me but few listened and took me to heart.”
The street artist, who talked to me about Jesus, started off a few days ago telling me of his plans to take the mother of their young child back to court, so he can see his child. He said he had convinced the mother to come to Key West to live, but she had not cared for it, and perhaps not for him and his preachings either, and she had gone back to where they had come from, where a court order said they both could live and share custody of the child.
I said, speaking just as a lawyer, who had done his fair share of domestic relations cases, because of the long geographical distance between him and the mother and their child, I saw no way he could prevail, unless he proves the mother is totally unfit and the child is in danger being with the mother, and he is awarded full custody of the child therefore. I told him to move back to where they had come from, and the judge would see to it that he got to share custody of his child with the mother. He said he doesn’t want to move back; he wants his child here, in Key West.
I said the way of Jesus is the way of surrender, something some spiritual traditions in the East theoretically embrace, but it is not embraced by the spiritual traditions in the West, not even by Christianity. I told him to let it go, ask for a Divine Intervention, and deal with whatever that produces, or does not produce. He did not seem open to that, either; he is determined to get the child back.
I said the child might die as the result of the spiritual warfare raging between him and the mother. He asked, how can the child die? I said, the child’s soul decides to check out, the body dies. No comprehension, it seemed, that such a thing could happen.
I did not say I knew it could happen; I had experienced it with my first child, who died right after his mother and I had a terrible fight over whether she would take him back to her hometown to see her brother off to war. Our son died during his sleep in her parents’ home; some send-off to war.
I told the street artist, instead of dying, his child might develop a severe illness, or a severe mental problem. I said children are like sponges, they absorb the psychic troubles in their parents; they absorb the psychic warfare.
I said, if he truly loves his child, he will not go to war with the mother to try to get the child. He will move back to where they are, instead. He said again, it’s his child, too; he should have her half the time, as per the court order, which was for him to have them half the time back where they had come from, not in Key West.
Round and round it went. How many Christians did I see when I practiced law go to war in court over their children? Many. Today, or when I next see the Duval artist, I will try a different tact. I will say, Jesus would say not to go to court, and if that Jesus advice is ignored, so is Jesus ignored and crucified yet again.
Going to court to stop harm to another person, to other people, to the environment, that’s one thing. Going to court to force someone else to give you what you want or to behave as you want, that’s something else altogether. That’s your will, not God’s will, be done. Jesus’ way in the Gospels is, Thy will, not mine, be done, O Lord.
In saying that, Jesus surrendered to what he knew was coming, which today we call Good Friday – he was crucified. I doubt Jesus felt good about it. I doubt the people who knew and loved him felt good about it.
In a parallel universe, a letter to the Editor in today’s Citizen (www.keysnews.com) from a man I have known for a while:
Sunday, April 20, 2014
“One Human Family” may be as much fantasy as reality, I’m not sure. But it’s clear that disputes between residents and visitors, as well as disputes among residents, are not in our long-term collective interests. Fights and rude behavior about noise, congestion, bicycles, the homeless (see a partial list, Citizen editorial April 9) affect how we feel about living here and how visitors see us.
So much is at stake when we let personal issues and raw emotions take precedence over our larger civic interests and civil behavior. I wonder if a joint effort of public, private and nonprofit leadership might help us restrain our destructive behavior, and reframe disputes in terms of larger interests?
Think of the bike wars as an example. For sure there are innumerable incidences every day of unfriendly acts (and gestures!) between drivers and bicyclists. But the fact is that in Key West, in America, in Europe, bikes are in ascendancy as a mode of transportation. As a place-based economy, we depend on people wanting to come here to spend money. Thank heavens our economy is not based on, say, making chemicals.
But there are trade-offs in selling where we live. Factories can make technical changes, but in our economy, we have to change what we do and how we behave as a community as the world about us changes.
Most of our conflicts require us to be friendly when that is difficult, civil when that may be even more difficult, and willing to compromise. Seriously, who wants to live in or visit an angry and fractious community?
Whether for our own contentment, or for economic reasons, could a joint leadership effort help our community achieve our larger and long-term goals? If yes, what do you need from us, your community?
Amen, Perry. Amen.
In another parallel universe are the reader comments to yesterday’s riveting The Eimers Investigation: Shocking Link Between FDLE and KWPD article in Key West the Newspaper (www.thebluepaper.com), which article you should be able to reach by clicking on either of those links:
7 COMMENTS ON “THE EIMERS INVESTIGATION: SHOCKING LINK BETWEEN FDLE AND KWPD”
In yet another parallel universe, today’s Editorial in the Citizen:
It’s ‘put up or shut up’ time in local politics
Our first president and one of the county’s Founding Fathers is quoted as saying: “Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.” Like most ideas from our Founding Fathers, that line is as poignant today, as ever.
Serving in public office is one of the most patriotic things a citizen can do. One of the pillars of what makes our country the nation it is, would be the democratic process. The ability to elect people to, and out of office helps ensure those in positions of power reflect the desires of the voters. Those in elected positions serve as the direct line between the voters and government.
While there may have been instances throughout history when an elected official was so popular that they would have unanimous support of their constituency, we seriously doubt that is the case in any of the upcoming elections. We find the exact opposite to be true in that virtually everyone in political office has their detractors.
This is a good thing; it means the political process is working.
Unfortunately, the political process gets tripped up when the voters don’t get to participate in an election because there is only one candidate in a political race. With only one candidate, the political process falls apart, and the voters get cheated.
Our world of 24-hour news and unlimited information at our fingertips has taken criticism of our elected officials to a whole new level. Critics of virtually everyone and everything are seemingly everywhere. With so many people so vocal about the failings of the various sitting elected officials, why do we still have candidates who get into office without an election because they fail to draw an opponent?
It would seem those most vocal among us would be eager for the opportunity to put themselves and their ideas before the voters. Some would be more blunt and say, “Put up or shut up!”
Fortunately, it is early in the election season and already many civic-minded citizens have announced they will be running for the various seats that are up for election this year. We cannot commend these people enough. Win or lose, each of them is performing a valuable public service which strengthens our whole way of life.
The local group Hometown! PAC has an event scheduled for Monday designed specifically to allow anyone, even those simply thinking about running for office, to “test the waters” without having to make any binding decision. The standing room only event starts at 5:30 p.m. sharp, and is held at Salute! on the Beach.
The long-running event, which is held at the start of every election year, is appropriately named “A Call For Candidates.” The idea is to provide a platform for potential candidates to take the stage in front of a large group of politically minded citizens and see what kind of reaction they get. The gathering also provides an opportunity for the voters to mingle and get to know those currently in office, and those who want to be.
We optimistically look forward to seeing multiple candidates for every elected seat and office step up to the challenge to run. In doing so, they give the voters a chance to decide who they want representing them and making decisions that will directly affect their lives for years to come.
Regardless of what a Founding Father said, after eight runs for public office in the Florida Keys, counting this my 4th mayor’s race, I have concluded anyone who wants to be an elected official is either insane or a crook. I have only run for public office because the angels running me told me to run, or else face the consequences, which I did not want to face, because there was a 9th race, my first county commission race, which I entered in 2004, after the 2003 (my 1st) mayor’s race, and then I dropped out of that county commission race, and the ensuing consequences were inhumanly horrible for me. I felt like I was going mad, and it took the angels two years to straighten me out.
So, for me it’s not about put up, or shut up. For me it’s about, Thy will, not mine, be done, O Lord. And, from what I have read of Abraham Lincoln, it was that way for him, too. I imagine he knew when he was elected the first time that he would die in office.
It occurs to me the Citizen Editorial Board’s put up, or shut up, might be aimed at City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, above, who several times told people he would run for mayor this year, but so far he has not filed to run. As I recall, put up and run for mayor, or shut up, was what Mayor Craig Cates, below,
told Tony during a fairly recent city commission meeting I attended, after Tony invited Mayor Cates to man up and them go outside and have it out.
Just my off the wall opinion: if Tony files to run for mayor this year, he will end up wishing he had not done it. Maybe in two years, he will be ready to run for mayor.
And, maybe the Citizen Editorial Board is a bit freaked out pondering the prospect that there might only be two mayor candidates this year, Mayor Cates and me. Maybe the Editorial Board is not alone in being freaked out pondering that prospect.
Take heart, yesterday in Jack Flats, a multi-generation Key West Cuban Conch I barely know hailed me, said he loves my speaking at city commission meetings, and he dislikes the way they talk down to me from the dais. He said I need to keep going to city commission meetings and speaking, even if it seems off the wall. I said, off the wall because it’s true. Yes, he said.
For one example, they are moving toward putting put a homeless stockade next to a championship golf course, sandwiched between the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden and Bayshore Manor, Monroe County’s Assisted Living Facility, down the street from an elementary school. This ex-Key West street person says, and recently told the mayor and city commissioners at a city commission meeting, that some chronic homeless people are truly dangerous; most chronic homeless people are addicts and/or mentally ill; and many of them have serious contagious disease, often MRSA; and it is madness putting a homeless shelter next to the golf course. Madness.
I said, the only sane and safe place for a new shelter is on the Sheriff’s property, where the old shelter is located. If not in the same spot, then near it, where law enforcement’s presence is in plain view; where homeless troublemakers are more likely to behave.
Some dessert Easter egg morsels:
Part-time Key West vicious van-dweller criminal Kurt Wagner wrote yesterday:
Good Morning Sloan
Just idle curiosity, but is it against city codes to install solar or paint your roof white? Kurt
Nashville J sent yesterday:
I have to break out my special stress reduction kit whenever I read about Key West banning solar panels on homes in a place that is perfect for solar panels on homes. Feel free to get your own stress reduction kit for such times!
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West