Article in Society / Activism / Civil Rights
My 8th No Shame article looks at sanity from the perspective of a a crazy homeless person. I look at reality and try to figure out who the real crazies are and if they have control of our society. Is our new normal insane by definition? Time to look in the mirror and upset the happy cart, enjoy!
 
 
 

Crazy or What?

Some scientist say that humans have a “mad gene” that no other species has. It is the gene that enabled human to cross oceans, go to the moon, create, and use nuclear weapons, as well as the "Jackass" movie....My case is rested. We are the only species that is capable of not only thinking up crazy things, but accomplishing them. Unfortunately, the crazy gene is a double edged sword. Being homeless has given me a different perspective on where us crazy humans are headed. Full Disclosure: I’m a CRAZY human and am pretty sure I have quite few “mad genes” in me.

Like most homeless people, I’m constantly asking myself one question: Am I nuts, mentally ill, bonkers, out of my mind, and other terminologies for crazy? Looking around at the society the “sane” people have built and control, I really wonder. Is this the best way for all of us to live? Is it the best of bad alternatives? People say America may not be perfect, but it is better than anywhere else. I question whether that is still true. It seems we have enough knowledge in the 21st century to do much better, but we just can’t get past the nasty side of our human nature.

Growing up in the tropical paradise that was Oahu before the gold rush, I know how nice life can be. I watched as human nature destroyed that comfortable lifestyle. “Paved paradise and put up a parking lot” is not just lyrics in a song to me. We have to ask ourselves was that the sane thing to do? Is life better now? Obviously it isn’t better for me and the other homeless. But many people accept the unsustainable, media driven delusions of more new, flashy, stuff in a choose your illusion lifestyle. I even made a short film in 2000 about how television changes our view of reality titled "Illusion and Reality" You can download a quicktime copy here.

At my age I’m able to look back in hindsight at endeavors that seemed sane at the time and know they were stupid. Things like Vietnam, trickle-down theory, MAD, communism and other failed, and some would argue insane, social policies put forward by the supposed best human thinking. Other great ideas like integration, the war on poverty, space travel, and nuclear disarmament that were logical steps in human survival are now being rolled back. 60 years from now are we going to look back again and realize that we trusted the wrong people to decide the sanest course of human action….singing “we won’t get fooled again”, again. Are we insane electing the same leaders expecting a different result?

Unfortunately, the actions we take personally and as a society can only be judged on their sanity in hindsight. Many ideas that seem great at the time turn out to be nuts, whereas, many ideas that seem crazy turn out to be wise. It seems to me from looking at history that the crazies have been deciding human direction for most of the time…Yet, we choose these same type of crazies in our country.

On the micro level, it has been determined by mental health doctors that I’m very depressed, maybe suicidal and should to be treated. I don’t disagree with them, this crazy world depresses me. Anyone who is not depressed given my situation would be mentally delusional and need to be treated in my opinion. To me the treatment is simple: give me back my freedom, remove me from this hell-hole, and return my privacy. I guarantee I would not be depressed anymore, promise. KHAKO still has not answer my doctors request for assurances that KHAKO follows federal HIPPA law so I can try medical treatment my doctor thinks may help with my depression.

I say this because I was not depressed before I became homeless. Sure I’ve had ups and downs, but I had a place to deal with the illness, heartbreak, disappointment, or whatever, and move on. I realize that ANYONE can have psychological problems, but homelessness and abject poverty will always make the medical condition worse…usually much worse. Many conditions like illness, accidents, or genetics that lead to mental illness are out of our control, but homelessness and poverty are societal choices that can be changed: They are not acts of God, unless caused by a natural disaster.

But doctors can’t prescribe housing. They can only prescribe drugs. Drugs that may or may not work and have dangerous side effects. While I have not taken psychological drugs, I have witnessed the side effect on clients at KHAKO who do. They are put on SSRI’s and other behavioral drugs in this insane KHAKO environment with very little medical supervision.

I witnessed an incident where a doctor gave a KHAKO client samples of Prozak and Zolof to try for their depression. The person had a paranoid reaction in the middle of the night but would not let me call an ambulance because they had not had the doctor fill out the form telling KHAKO that they were using the drug. The person was afraid that if the KHAKO operation staff found out they would search their unit, find the drugs the doctor gave them, and be immediately evicted as is KHAKO’s Policy. The only thing the KHAKO operation staff is qualified to do is call 911 in a medical emergency.

I have to wonder how much mental illness would be prevented or moderated by controlling homelessness and deprivation. The numbers from research are all over the place, but it is clear that some percentage of mental illness would be averted or constrained by limiting extreme poverty. Besides the money society would save from treating less mental illness, there is the more important fact that we would live in a much happier, safer, positive and sane society.

Illegal drugs and alcohol abuse is another problem for the homeless, as it is for the rest of society. Whether homeless and poor have more of a problem than the middle class and well off is a matter of debate with statistics and studies that vary widely. I think that poor people abuse alcohol and drugs to feel well-off while well-off folks just want to get high. Maybe the well-off are trying to escape the guilt of being affluent. If they are we should help them become less affluent.

Full disclosure: Like anyone who grew up in the 60’s, partied through the 70’s, and woke up with a hang-over in the 90’s, I’ve done more than my fair share of illegal drugs. Like a lot of people, life changed and I mellowed out. Like most folks, I was never addicted, needed treatment, or let drugs, or alcohol control my life and keep me from accomplishing great things. Then I was diagnose with a severe neurological disorder joking referred to on TV as Restless Leg Syndrome. After trying television advertised pharmaceuticals that made my condition more acute with psychotic side-effect, I was prescribed low doses of good old Heroin. I now have to take heroin every night. The funny thing is, I never get that fun, euphoric high that people on TV do casually pop painkillers, and I need some fun. Why is it that medical research has not come up with one other drug in 4000 years that fights pain as good as opioids? Crazy or what?

Trying to force people not to get high has never been successful or economical. As a country we have spent 100’s of BILLIONs of dollars on the war on drugs over the last 50 years and still have roughly the same amount of illegal drug users. Do you think we might be doing it wrong? Again, the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. The war on poverty and the war on drugs seem to have much in common. We spend billions employing people to solve these problems, but they are just getting worse: Those are the facts. These people blame everyone but themselves for the failure to limit substance abuse, homelessness and poverty. Crazy or What?

We need new concepts of what is sane policy that are not based on old myths, politics, religions, or cultures that no longer apply to 21st century human reality. It seems absolutely bonkers to me to use the same constructs and conventions designed for conventional war in an age of WMDs and terrorism. We just hope and pray no one will go nuts, press some button, and send us back to the stone-age, or worse. The same is true with distribution of wealth and resources, especially when the use and distribution of those resources is causing massive human suffering and environmental degradation. The 6th Extinction has probably started.

The capitalist system worked OK when there were only a billion humans on the planet who did not affect the planet’s environmental balance and had lots of untapped resources. The same can be said of monarchies, theocracies, communism and other systems of social organization and resource allocation systems.

If things got bad where you lived, you just moved, or conquered some new place. Now the earth is overrun with humans and some have WMDs that make it MAD to try and conquer them using traditional methods. I covered much of this in article 3 “Lost Tribes”. The point is that we need a big paradigm shift in human nature to understand, control, and use sanely the paradigm shift in human technology and population. Many people want to go back to the good old days of traditional values and beliefs for solutions to today’s problems. Unless we eliminate BILLIONS of people that idea will never work. When Atlas shrugs now, many more people suffer or die. There is no magical, fictional solution.

I’ve always liked comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck if” jokes. They’re funny because they are true observations. I’ve come up with some “You might be crazy if” jokes to lighten up this depressing subject. Good segment for John Stewart.

You might be crazy if you think we can survive a nuclear war.

You might be crazy if you think we can solve our nation’s problems by shutting down the government.

You might be crazy if you think our current politicians can solve our nation’s problems.

You might be crazy if you tell other people their crazy.

The point is, people have many different ideas of what is crazy, some diametrical opposites. Religious people believe that their god(s) holds the answer to our problems. Mental health professionals believe their treatments hold the answers to behavioral problems. Capitalist believe their economic system works the best. All of the above have rhetoric that, they think, proves their points. Yet, Agonistics, natural paths, and socialist also have rhetoric that proves their opposite points. Who is right? Could everyone be wrong? Maybe you might be crazy if you believe you have the answer. Again, just because you believe something’s true does not make it true, except to you. Maybe you guessed right, maybe not.

Last night I had an encounter with the literal crazies at a behavior modification class called “Bridges” that I was forced to attend by KHAKO to stay here. It was taught by two paid mental health “facilitators” whose goal was to make us dysfunctional poor folks functional by practicing their psychology based beliefs. Psychology is a belief system like all others based on the small amount of knowledge humans have learned about our mental functions. That belief system of knowledge changes constantly with new discoveries. Logically this means that some current psychological practices may be deemed wrong by new knowledge as has happened many times in this belief. Remember lobotomies or shock therapy. Crazy or what?

Homeless people have to deal with case workers, mental health workers, pastors, and others who think something is wrong with them because they are indigent. Their treatment is based on their belief system; Jesus, psycho-babble, Krishna, whatever. The “Bridges” class was based on psycho-babble that one of the facilitators said “saved her”, from being suicidal and psychotic. Just like how a pastor told me that Jesus saved him from the same thing.

I could have stayed in the class and argued the validity of her belief, but that would be like trying to convince an Imam that the Prophet Mohammed is not real. Life’s too short. I told them I was writing articles about what it’s like to be homeless, and they asked me to leave. Don’t want to confuse the converts with reality or other possibilities.

As more and more folks read about my journey through homelessness, the crazy label is being thrown at me. I’m sure a few readers wonder about my sanity…I wonder about my sanity too. The problem is what is crazy in my world may not be in the “normal” world most people live in.

But the proof is in the pudding. Humans have exponentially more information at their disposal than ever, yet cannot seem to use it to create a better world. It’s like a computer that has access to huge amounts of data, but the processor is too small and slow to make use of it. We humans need more “memory” and a better way to process information concerning our reality.

We all need to take a good hard look at the world we live in and decide whether or not the direction we are headed is crazy or what. As I’ve said, sitting at the bottom of the cliff of homelessness gives one a different perspective on life, and a lot of time to think about it. It’s like my mind has had a “clean restore” and wiped out all the junk software, malware and other programs that have been slowing it down and focusing its processing power on meaningless illusions. New calculations are now possible for me, maybe different answers. “Normal” takes on a whole new meaning.

Unfortunately, all the old, obsolete computer that run the system can’t understand the new data, it is in a different code. The operators know the old code and don’t want to learn a new, different one. So the programmers update the old code to make it seem like it’s new and different. They deceive the masses into believing they are in control with “like” buttons and addictive software. How many points do you have on “Angry Bird”? What level have you reached on “World of Warcraft” and how much time did take you to get there? You might be crazy if you’re a 90th level Warcraft wizard.

Our distorted sense of reality is causing real problems that will eventually affect us all. Even people who witness the deterioration of society first-hand like Police, emergency, or social workers no longer question or understand the problems they face daily. They are overwhelmed and have become desensitized to problems of the folks they are paid to help. It seems that we all are becoming more insensitive to the problems of others as we chase the illusions we believe in. We are no longer capable of understanding, or processing, the information that is truly important to a species tripping through space.

I continue to see this desensitization first-hand every day as a lowly inmate at KHAKO. I watch clients and providers fight each other to see who can get the most crumbs. It’s like a micro-consume of the real world with everyone playing their own game of survival. The clients trying to get as many benefits as they can while the staff tries to keep their jobs. There are winner and losers using the game tactics they know best. People smile and call you “sir” while they cut your throat behind your back against a backdrop of constantly changing friends, enemies, frienemies and alliances. Like the real world, the strong have it better than the weak.

The strongest faction here, by far, is the KHAKO organization and staff. They control and make rules, policies, and programs that seem to primarily benefit them in one way or another. From challenging my doctor’s orders for not doing chores, to harassing me with bogus complaints, to changing the very contract I sign with KHAKO when I was admitted, it never ends. That’s their job.

I was reminded of that this week the day after another surgery for skin cancer. I was told that the contract I signed when I was admitted into the KHAKO program in December is now “null and void” or at least the part that said I could live here “once accepted into the transitional program for up to two years” after spending six week in the emergency homeless dorm.

Operations head Lee explained very clearly to me when I was admitted as an “emergency homeless” that I’d have six weeks to meet the financial and program requirements to “transition” into the shared one room studio where I could stay for up to two years if I followed the polices and rules while I looked for a place to live. Lee gave this same explanation to all other emergency clients at the time. This was KHAKO’s stated policy on the first page of the “Rules, Policies, and Procedures” handbook that KHAKO and I signed an agreement to follow.

After six weeks in the emergency dorm I was called into see KHAKO’s CEO Becky Woods who told me I had been accepted into KHAKO’s two year transition program. My State of Hawaii disability provided me with enough money to pay KHAKO’s ”program fee”(rent) and electricity cost in my unit. I had been accepted, and put on the wait list to seven low income elderly housing, which was the only housing I could afford. I was told as long as I paid my program fee and followed KHAKO’s rules, policies and procedures, I could live at KHAKO for up to 2 years or until I was accepted in low income housing, or found other housing. The transition contract was signed by myself and KHAKO’s CEO on Feb. 7 1014. So far I have paid program fees on time for seven months and have no NCs or violations of KHAKO policies that have not been overturned. So why am I now being told that the 2 year transition contract has been cancelled?

I mean I’ve upheld my side of the contract. What will happen to other old, sick, disabled folks that have been living at KHAKO longer than me who have nowhere to go? Is KHAKO just going to start arbitrarily kick them out on the street like the mental health ward that treats young patients on Maui that’s closing this week to save money? Another good Idea-homeless and mentally ill youth living on the street. What could go wrong with this plan? Is this crazy or what? Seriously, why not give them all guns too.

I was told by my case worker at the same time that KHAKO does have the power to have me forcibly evicted by the police. He also questioned my medical treatment saying “people(?) see me walking around, getting on the bus and wonder why I have a doctor’s excuse not to do chores”. The KHAKO staff probably think I’m beboping around Maui hanging at the beach, having fun. They’d never consider I was struggling to use the bus to get food, medication and treatment because no one helps me. Maybe I should walk around with my shirt off so the staff can see the scars and stitches. They seem to get off on people suffering. You’d think KHAKO would respect the reputable Dermatologist who saved my life.

It seems my case worker is taking a harder line with me lately. In the past he has stood up for me with the operations staff, even getting them to apologize for their behavior. He told me he didn't think KHAKO was following HIPPA law and to have my doctor write a letter. He also encouraged me to write these articles, even complimenting my writing. A few weeks ago he said that “if I could show him in writing the two year KHAKO transitional policy, he’d back me up 100% and I could stay here up to two years, end of story”. I showed it to him in writing, and at our last meeting he told me that policy had been changed since then and was now null and void. I didn't think you could change a two party contract without notifying each party and getting the agreement of both signatories. But I've already written about how homeless people are treated differently legally and have no real access to the court system.

He also said stitches or no stitches, I had to go up to the Social Security Office and bring him back some proof that showed I’d applied for complicated social security disability benefits. He said he had to show “THEM” (KHAKO? operations?) I was doing something.

I guess being old, broke and fighting cancer is not enough for them. It would be different if KHAKO was trying to do something to better my situation. I can honestly say that since I transitioned, KHAKO has done nothing for me other than give me a crappy place to live, which I have paid and worked for. I guess because I’m not a ex-con, uneducated, or have a chemical dependency problem, it’s not profitable to help me. I’m also too old and sick to get a job: Can’t live with me, can’t get rid of me, can’t shoot me.

Maybe this is retribution for me writing about KHAKO and the homeless problem in an honest way that has not been done before. People are reading these article, and some are trying to find a way to help me and change the way homeless are treated. To me, their like the first people to speak out for integration, women’s right to vote, gay rights and other civil rights issues. I’m trying to drink from a water fountain I’m not supposed to as KHAKO tells me they can kick me off their publicly funded bus if I don’t do as I’m told and sit in the back. Next they’ll bring out the dogs…..Get IT!

So I think everyone needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves “Am I crazy or what”? Do you look at the insanity around you say “that’s not too bad” and google something else- Oh look, bright, shiny things on good looking people. Or think “that shit is terrible, people shouldn't be treated like that”, but I can’t do anything: too busy. Or even worse, you believe that the impoverished and disenfranchised deserve what’s happening to them because it’s their fault. Or, are you one of the few who think these illogical problems have to be dealt with because they are damaging us, our families and society: Then do something to try and change things. I mean really change things before it’s too late-if that’s possible.

Giving to the food bank, non-profits that help the poor and volunteering to help the needy is important. But, it’s only putting a band-aid on a serious cancer. Our society needs to find a way to prevent and treat this cancer of poverty before it metastasize beyond our control. Unlike cancer, poverty is created and controlled by mankind. Like climate change, humans can either deal with it now or suffer the consequences later. It is our CHOICE.

Most folks are waiting for the other guy to change first. Why should some live with less stuff while others live in luxury? That’s crazy and won’t solve the problem anyway. We need a new social contract that reflects the realities of the 21st century not the 15th century. Before that can be done, people need to understand the realities of the 21st century. It’s obvious looking around that we don’t.

Unfortunately, us humans are crazy motherf%*kers {CMF) who have a poor track record of solving common problems without the use of violence. But violence won’t work this time, remember WMDs ? For the first time in history we have global population, resource and environmental dilemmas that affect us all. We will not be saved by some Marvel comic superhero or Sigma Force. Like I’ve said before “life is non-fiction, you just can’t make up the ending and expect it to happen”. It’s time to see reality like it really is and stop believing in media driven illusions or ancient unproven myths. We need to control the "Mad gene" if humans are going to survive!

In my next article "Equality and Peace", I will continue describing my homeless journey in Mauiland. Thing are starting to reach a boiling point as more people here read these articles and ask questions. It is an election year! Hopefully someone in the local news media will start asking questions posed by these articles. Then again the same politicians that are responsible for this mess spend a lot of money buying election ads in the local media. Why bite the hand that feeds you. I will also look at the macro problem homeless have to deal with outside their village. Federal, state, and other homeless policies that fund the homeless business.

 

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About the Author 

Sanford L Hill
I am a renegade, renaissance, Hawaii surfer poet who loves to think, experiment, and create radically outside the box. Born and raised in H

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