I often wonder…

It is true, you know, that I often wonder about who plays what part in each of our lives. Who are we to one another, really? What mystery do we all share? Do we really exist? I suppose that last question is an easy answer. Every time I miss the nail and smash a finger I am very well aware that I am alive. But what of the rest of life? There is the age old question about why are we here? What of our purpose? Do we have or share any purpose.

Atheists believe no God exists. Odd, actually, they have a belief and yet tell me I have no right to a belief that God does exist.

I am told there is no proof of God. I ask them for proof that there is no God. I feel sorry for them in their apostasy.

It is the same with Jehovah’s witnesses. Debate them and they will back out to the waiting car in the street as it slides up to rescue them from being converted to, say, being Catholic.

In the end I don’t think it matters much. I am not out to convert anyone.

Today I met a wretch of a man, a Vietnam Vet who was asking me for money. Oh, I am sure he was for real. I don’t like the phony ones and I don’t like being asked for money. There are plenty of resources for the homeless and ill, they don’t need to ask for handouts. The VA has plenty of resources to help with disabled vets who have fallen by the side of the road like the one I met today. I came close to buying his lunch, we were standing in the parking lot of a restaurant where I had just eaten, but then thought information was what he needed and not cash from me. So, I fed him with information, but I don’t think he ate it. The people who could really have helped him were within walking distance, but he never went that way. Instead he went into the bushes behind the restaurant and relieved himself. Another person came up, another vet, he gave him money. He didn’t see the guy come out of the bushes. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

It was an interesting conversation, my trying to break through and aim him in the right direction and my knowing he would never move in that direction. So, I didn’t buy his lunch. I wished him well and then went home.

Tomorrow I will return to the VA medical center for another appointment concerning the constant pain I have. Tomorrow I’ll drive over to the same restaurant. Tomorrow, if he is there, I’ll invite him to have lunch with me.

4 responses to “I often wonder…”

  1. Might I ask what the right direction would have been for the homeless Vietnam Veteran? What changed that you would buy him lunch if to see him the following day, he still would be as he was the day before? I am curious to what you left out.


    1. Hello Cynthia. Well, first off, I didn’t say he was homeless. I wrote in generalities about those who are homeless, but he wasn’t and by my not saying he was, I thought that was clear. The directions I gave to him was to go across the street to the VA medical complex and to speak with counselors there who could help him. He was already on the VA list as disabled and being paid nearly $3,000 monthly for those disabilities, plus social security disability of about $1,000 monthly. All told he gets close to $4,000 a month. That probably seems a lot, but he is permanently disabled from being a fighter in Vietnam and, so, deserves the compensation as he cannot hold down a job. He had no money and was a week away from getting any money from the government. So, my directions were simply to go speak to people who might help him a bit more. If he was broke then he probably needs someone to oversee his money because his comments to me revealed a man incapable of handling his own income. Why would I have asked him to lunch the following day? Well, first of all, I didn’t go to lunch myself the next day but had I then I might have asked him and then perhaps I might not have asked. The next day would have subject to my observations of him at the time. If I felt then that he was a common panhandler then I would not have helped at all. If I felt he was honest then I would have considered helping him. BUT and it is a big thing with me. I gave him directions to whom he should speak. They were across the street and within walking distance. He chose to hit someone else up for money. Strike one in my book. If on the 2nd day he was there and told me he had followed my advice but they couldn’t help him then I probably would have bought him something to eat. But, he would have had to go in with me and sit with me and eat with me. I don’t give money out to anyone like that. Panhandlers make $12,000 and up a year by standing on the side of the road with signs that say, “homeless vet, please help” or “starving, will work for food” yeah, I bet.
      So, hopefully that answers your question.


      1. I asked out of my own insightful experiences over the eight years I volunteered and worked in a homeless shelter in Santa Barbara, California. The first four years I volunteered four hours every Saturday at lunch time. Then I was asked if I would take a split shift. The offer meant my serving breakfast having to arrive at 4:00 am to start the preparations and then return at 4:00 pm for the dinner process on Saturdays and Sundays. I accepted only as long as it would take to pay off my children’s orthodontist which I didn’t realize would take another four years.

        I was really liked by so many of the residents. They would smile when I entered the day area like they were really happy to see me, it was awkward. One day one of the residents told me that everyone smiled when I arrived because for the next three house they would be treated with dignity and respect no matter what condition they appeared. It was true I never made judgements about any resident and always had something to say about each one, always making eyes contact, it made feel good.

        I met so many individuals of different ages and of diverse backgrounds and circumstances, Male and female. All brought together under the roof of the shelter. I’ll admit most had drug or alcohol issues or others were illiterate and unemployable. Some lost their housing and didn’t have the first, last plus deposit to get into a new place. I saw how fast the government assistant money was spent by most. Non-perishable food supplies and caffeinated instant coffee. Four to five residents would get together and rent a motel room for a week, anything to get away from the shelter. They rest goes for liquor and fast food.

        The shelter rules, in my opinion, were harsh. The residents have to be out by 6:00 am (to go where?) they will not be let back in until 4:00 pm and if to be 15 minutes after 7:00 pm you are shut out for the night, sometimes depending on the staff member they will hand the person a thin blanket.

        Some residents are mental patients who are not quite there. Then the users not too many of them but you can spot them right away. Describable as the I don’t want to work because my back hurts. They know the system and how to use it to their advantage. They do care to own anything as long as they have food and a place to sleep. I found no reason they should not be employed in some capacity.

        Lastly, I asked why you wrote, tomorrow if I see him I’ll have lunch with him. I actually thought you felt bad. I am an empathetic type always feeling bad if I don’t help, ask my children I have always been a terrible disciplinarian. I always give to the homeless, I knew they would most likey buy beer, but my father was an alcoholic and I sometimes think what withdrawal must feel like and if I can relieve a little of their pain then I must.


  2. Hello again, Cynthia,

    I too am an empath.

    But, I also know that feeding someone does not relieve them or help them recognize that they have responsibilities for themselves. You are a child of an alcoholic. I come from a battered home. We both have issues, needs, and weaknesses. I have reached out numerous times to a lot of people.

    There are people, sometimes their children, who needed glasses and I helped get them for them. There is a seeing eye dog school nearby here that I helped establish. I have gotten people into the VA system, helped them get benefits for themselves and their children.

    I helped one man get out of a local mental care facility, (he had been living homeless on the streets and his children were robing him) got a homeless veteran from WW II era into a nursing home and paid for by the VA, got his bill of over $150,000 at the hospital taken care of. worked as a guardian advocate w/o pay for years until I discovered the hospital was not covering me with liability insurance and refused to do that and so now they pay a hefty fee to a local agency for what I was doing for free.

    I have worked on programs where haircuts, showers, food, legal aid, and more was given out to vets during “stand down” operations with my wife who is a social worker at my side. My wife as worked for years in mental health spending more hours unpaid than paid. A local man who was living on social security and didn’t know he could have VA benefits was helped by me and he never new me, never met me, and yet I got him over $3,000 a month income from the VA added to his SS and got his adult children educational benefits.

    Anyway, because you are the child of an alcoholic you think you have to “fix” things, make things “better.” Why? You automatically feel it is your fault that they are the way they are and so you have to rescue them. It is nice to care. It is nice to want to help. But trust me, there are those who need help and those who can help themselves and won’t; and the guy I wrote about was of the latter group.

    Congratulations on the work you have done. Now, stop blaming yourself for their condition. Stop trying to save those who want to use you, not grow on their own. Start learning the difference. Learn that you have nothing to apologize to your father for his being what he was or to the world for what he was. He made his own way and it wasn’t your fault. You were not responsible for him and you aren’t responsible for anyone else today other than yourself.

    Sincerely, Gordon Kuhn


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