Chapter Fifty-Eight

[ based on "Tramp On The Street" by Grady & Hazel Cole ]

               Only a poor man was Lazarus that day
               When he lay down at the rich man's gate
               He begged for some crumbs from the rich man to eat
               He was only a tramp found dead on the street

               He was some mother's darlin', he was some mother's son
               Once he was fair, and once he was young
               Some mother rocked him, her little baby to sleep
               But they left him to die like a tramp on the street

               In the Sunday light of stain-glass by the church steeple
               Like Lazarus, lay millions of poor wretched people
               They beg for some crumbs from the Christians who preach
               But they leave them to die like tramps on the street

               Jesus now lives on America's street
               Down where the pimps and drug dealers meet
               The homeless, they sleep on the ground at his feet
               And we leave them to die like a tramp on the street

               Jesus, he died on calvary's street
               Nails in his hands and nails in his feet
               We re-pierce his side, his hands and his feet
               And we leave him to die on America's street
               Yeah, we leave him to die on. . . America's street ¹ * **

Community For Creative Non-Violence

DEDICATED TO:  The late Vietnam War Veteran Mitch Snyder and his longtime fellow soldier Carol Fennelly who did their best, in the face of one of our history's most unsympathetic and callous administrations, to help alleviate the plight of America's homeless.  Among many other efforts, Snyder slept outside in the winter on a Washington D.C. street heating grate and went on two prolonged hunger strikes (42 and 51 days) until Reagan finally most grudgingly agreed to provide funds for a homeless shelter; i.e., the resulting negative press was beginning to make him look bad (not that his administration didn't look bad enough, already).


1. First and second verses from "Tramp On The Street" by Grady & Hazel Cole; performed by Peter, Paul & Mary, Late Again (1968).  According to an article posted online at HillBilly-Music Dot Com, the Cole version may have been based on a song composed in 1877 by Dr. Addison D. Crabtree, which contains a strikingly similar verse to one in the Cole version.  A verse in the Peter, Paul & Mary version was apparently added later by other artists who performed the song prior to the PP&M release and was not part of the original Cole version.  Thus, like several older great folk and country/folk type songs, the PP&M version appears to represent a compilation of ideas inputted by various individuals over several generations.

*FootNote:  If conservative Christians in America spent as much time and effort trying to help the cause of the homeless who are already born as they do wasting their time and effort on theorized rights of the unborn, there would be no homeless problem in America.  Most assuredly, Jesus was correct in his assessment of hypocrites such as these, who habitually strain the knat of technical irrelevance while swallowing the camel of what matters towards the positive collective good of those already born, voting again and again for those who habitually screw everyone who Jesus claimed to love.

**AMERICAN HOMELESS STATISTICS:  While it is literally impossible to obtain entirely accurate statistics regarding poverty in America, several valid estimates can be made based on a variety of sources (including government sources).  On August 1st, 2003, several million Americans were entirely homeless and millions more lived in vehicles, garages and similar makeshift accommodations.  The number of Americans in 2001 who were hungry or near hunger was 33.6 million according to the USDA.  According to Jay Shaft of Coalition For Free Thought In Media, the homeless population in America has increased significantly in the past three years, by some estimates as much as 35%---almost all homeless outreaches are reporting large increases in the number of individuals they assist and large percentages of impoverished people are being turned away for lack of funding.  Over 30% of Americans are at border-line poverty level or worse while at least 6 million children are extremely impoverished (meaning combined parental support is less than $9,000 per year for a family of four).  America's Second Harvest reports that one in every four individuals in food lines are children and they assist over 9 million children annually.  The US Conference of Mayors reported a 19% increase in shelter requests due to homelessness in 25 cities surveyed in the year 2002.
        According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, over 60 American cities (including large cities) have essentially made it criminal to be poor, introducing measures to make it illegal to beg or sleep on the street, to sit in bus shelters for more than an hour, to stand on the corner soliciting work and, etc.  Meanwhile, neither the Republican or Democratic Party has any plan whatsoever directly addressing America's growing homeless population, nor are the homeless, including homeless war veterans, even mentioned as a priority in their party platform agendas.  It is estimated by veterans groups that as of January, 2005, there are approximately 230,000 homeless war veterans in America and the due to the current conflict in Iraq, the problem is expected to grow dramatically in the next 1-3 years (see Operation Stand Down's Homeless Veteran Statistics).  If 5% of the current American military budget were diverted to end growing hunger in our population, there would be virtually no hunger in the United States. An additional 10% diverted annually, if managed correctly, could probably eventually wipe out starvation on the entire continent of Africa.
        Before the Creator of the universe, there is no excuse whatsoever for a nation as wealthy as the United States to have one person within our borders who does not have adequate food, shelter and health care.  And it is beyond the iniquity of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Sodom and Rome combined that our leaders of all party affiliation, who hold the supreme advantage of historical perspective, do not make alleviation and elimination of poverty and disease America's number one priority issue.  Historically, it is beyond all argument that if a nation does not address its own sick and poor, that nation will not survive, as disease and often major plague spreads from the least to the highest rungs of a society without partiality. Large populations living in poverty without forseeable hope of improvement, either violently revolt and/or, lose all form of country loyalty and welcome a conquering enemy to come in and improve their meager lives of disease, hunger and misery.  According to both Ezekiel (16:25) and Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46), God without partiality, judges all nations by whether or not they help their sick and poor.  The historical bottom-line agreed upon by even the most atheistic of scholars is that nations in the long run, will truly reap what they sow.  Untied States Poverty Information


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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