Collection of Journal Entries From the Streets of Berkeley
THE HOMELESS TEN COMMANDMENTS
These are not ideas that were written after being struck by a lightning bolt of spiritual awakening while toting tablets up Mount Sinai or Zion, Rushmore, Everest, Olympus or Mount Shasta for that matter. This composition was however begun on a borrowed iPad across the street from the Coliseum. So it can be said that these not intended to be divine inspirational thoughts come from Mt. Davis. These ideas are not from Snooty Snoots who live outside of the homeless community and look down on us from high, but rather, from other denizens of the street, who live the life and have expressed the following sentiments to me at various times.
10. THOU SHALL WAKE UP IN THE MORNING:
More intuitive process than divine inspiration but there should be a mild celebratory reaction considering the unnatural locale. As a rather large African American Gentleman more aptly stated after waking up next to me “I’m just thankful my black ass is still alive!” Now that doesn’t explain how and why he woke up next to me but that’s a discussion for another time.
9. THOU SHALL NOT COVET, PILFER, ROB, NAB, APPROPRIATE, TAKE, SWIPE, BURGLARIZE OR ANY OTHER
SYNONYM FOR “STEAL,” ANOTHER HOMELESS PERSON’S BELONGINGS:
A terrible crime in and of itself but stealing something from someone who literally has nothing is a reprehensible act that crosses way past the line of immoral. Which is why many of us wish, hope or pray that there is a special circle in HELL for those who commit this act.
8. THOU SHALL MAINTAIN A BASIC LEVEL OF HYGIENE:
Here is the basic test… if you’re in a crowd of people either large or small and you leave but your stench still remains 20 minutes after you’ve gone, then appropriate action needs to be taken to rectify the problem immediately. When your odor becomes “Oh Dear!” find one of the many places where you can wash yourself and your clothes for free, and then, as my mother used to say, “Wash your A@#!” There is no reason why you should smell like you swam laps in a septic tank then rolled around in a compost heap.
7. THOU SHALL MAINTAIN A COMMON LEVEL OF DECENCY:
Homelessness does not grant you some inalienable right to urinate wherever you want… in public places where other people must go, especially on parked cars… really, snot rocket indoors… disgusting, or worse… you’re not a dog! I don’t believe there is a prize that goes to whomever leaves their DNA in the most public places, but if there is… guess what… you won… contest over! Save a tree and pee in a bathroom.
6. THOU SHALL LEAVE AS YOU FIND:
If you borrow or utilize something in any capacity or for any length of time, make sure you give it back or leave it in the condition it was in before you had it. If you give me back my bike with parts missing or clothes with items missing and say “Thank you” my reply will feature a different word in front of “you”. If you sleep, eat or smoke somewhere please leave it looking the way it was before you were there, I would like to say “Better than before…”, but I know that’s a bridge too far. Being dirty slobs is the major complaint that residents have against the homeless. Why make it harder for the rest of us?
5. THOU SHALL MAINTAIN A COMMON LEVEL OF COMMON SENSE:
We often debate whether a dubious action seen in the community is the result of mental illness or substance abuse. I believe most of the time things that happen are just dumb and they were dumb before the person put the pipe, joint, or bottle to their mouth. Most senseless acts committed by those either feigning or experiencing actual mental challenges are things that a 4-year old would know better than to do, so I have my doubts. If all else fails you ask yourself, “What would a 4-year do in this situation?”
4. THOU SHALL NOT HOARD:
In my relative short time in the homeless world there is one thing I’ve discovered that leads to this quote “You don’t have to act like you will never see food again”, because you will. There is no need to knock over the physically challenged or the elderly to get to food that people are nice enough to offer. There is usually enough food for everyone so there is no need to pile food Pyramid Building high on your plate El Gordo! There is always someone else that will be along shortly to satisfy your piggly wiggly habit. If you don’t believe me, look around, I’ve never seen so many “fat” homeless people.
3. THOU SHALL TREAT OTHERS AS THOU WISH TO BE TREATED:
If you have trouble with this one refer back to the 4-year old previously mentioned.
2. THOU SHALL NEVER LOSE HOPE:
I know with all the forces of social inequality seemingly conspiring against you, it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook. It is like your existence consists of wading in quicksand, unable to support the weight of your problems. And yet, I’ve spoken to individuals who spent double digit years in similar circumstances who told me that they remained steadfast in their belief in the inevitability of being emancipated from this life on the streets. One of them said to me that they hoped their eternal optimism could breed hope to those in a comparable place. I said, “I hope so too.”
1. THOU SHALL GET OUT:
A funny story… I lost the keychain portion of my library card and just before I was about to go and replace it. I asked myself, “Why do I need it? I don’t own anything that needs a key, so why do I need a keychain?” At that point I decided that my number one goal from now until it happens is to have a key that unlocks a door to a place that I own or rent, with my name on or in it, that I can call home. So should we all.
~ Written by “A Voice From the Streets”
Do you have a Street Byte you would like us to post? Send it to Barbara@ConsiderTheHomeless.org.
Submissions can be from any media: Poetry, Essays, Drawings, Photographs, etc. If you cannot email it to us, let us know your name, and where we can find you, the next time you see us driving around, and we can arrange picking it up, or photographing it for the site.
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