The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

You Can’t Give Them What You Don't Have

I was walking through this beach community the other day. I walked past these two homeless guys. One asked me for money. I explained that I no longer carry any cash. I finished my statement, as I always do when asked for money, “But, good luck.” He rudely came back at me with, “What goes around comes around.” Okay… Whatever that means. I just smiled and kept on walking. He then follows up, “I’m seventy-one, how old are you?” “Coming up on sixty-three,” I respond. “Well, I got eighteen years on you.” I’m not quite sure where that math came from but it did make me smile. I just walked on as he continued to ramble rude comments my direction. My lady said to me, as she always does, “I told you, don’t engage with those people.”

You know, the homeless crisis has really gotten bad here in the greater Los Angeles, SoCal area. And, I always try to treat everyone with respect. But, more often than not when you look to the life of anyone, and at anything that has gone haywire in their existence, the blame can seen to be solely/mostly on the person themselves. Not just with the homeless but in all aspects of human life.

We are all responsible for the choices we make and what we decide to do. Yet, how few take any responsibly for anything? They just reach out a hand and expect it to be filled with whatever it is they are requesting.

In terms of money, I guess this guy was unhappy with me that I did not give him any. But, the truth be told, I cannot even tell you the last time I touched money. I do know it was way before the pandemic. There is just no need to carry cash anymore. But, more to the point, in many ways, homelessness has become a cry for assistance but do people really want the help that is being offered? Or, do they prefer to base their existence on that state of need, equaling aggression and distaste for others?

I think to this one guy who I have seen for a number of years. As is well documented, I like to go into thrift stores when I have the time. You never know what you will find. More times than not I walk out empty-handed but, that’s okay, it’s fun to look.

Anyway, this one guy used to pull up in his old Volkswagen van. Sometimes I would see him working on it in the parking lot outside of this one thrift store I go to sometimes. Occasionally, he would say something to me either inside or outside of the store, and that was that. Time has continued forward. I didn’t really realize it initially but he was living in that van. As time has gone on, the van became fuller and fuller with junk until today it has so much stuff inside of it and hanging off of the roof, I do not know how he can even drive it. I mean there is a lot. As for the guy, now I see him arguing with people in the parking lot all the time. His mental condition has obviously deteriorated. But, what is the basis for all/any of this? Is it not the choices this man made in his doing what he did defined by his own set of circumstances?

Close to where I live, there was this one homeless lady who moved into a bus stops. It is one of those ones that has a roof and glass side walls. I guess that gave her some level of protection from the elements. There she would sit all day and all night doing nothing. What kind of life is that doing nothing? Does doing nothing make anything any better? Yet, she made a choice to just sit there. I’m guessing she has mental issues. But, whatever the case, you can do something to make your life and all life better or you can sit there, doing nothing, and not helping yourself or the world.

Until recently, there was this large homeless encampment that sprung up in Echo Park, which is a park not far from downtown L.A. I’ve actually shot scenes for a few of my Zen Films in that park many years back. Of course, there was a large amount of drugs, drug addicts, and crime that goes along with that lifestyle. The residence of the area and others were afraid to go near the park. I get it. How can you trust or calculate the behavior of people who embrace that lifestyle? In any case, the city eventually came in, about a year deep, to clean up the park. Of course, there were all the homeless that refused to leave, a lot of protests to save the homeless and let them stay and all that… To calm the tensions, the city set many of them up in free hotel rooms. I wish I were given free rent. Finally, the homeless camp was cleared out so the park could be cleaned. The sanitation workers cleaned out thirty-five tons of waste which included all kind of garbage, needles, not to mention large amounts of feces and urine. The homeless are not clean. Meaning, someone had to come in there and clean up their shit. Yet, there were people who were mad at the city for making them leave the encampment so they could clean up their shit so that they average Joe could go back to the park. Who is in the right and who is in the wrong?

If you look at life it is pretty easy to see what things have the potential to lead a person down a dark road. Drugs are bad. Alcohol is bad. Gambling is bad. Overspending is bad. Stealing is bad. Hurting is bad. Expecting a free ride is bad. And, the list goes on and on. What do you think was the causation for most of those people to become homeless? Answer: they chose to follow a road that lead towards darkness. Then, who must pay for their mistakes? In this modern society it is the taxpayer, the person who wants to go to a park but can’t because they are afraid of getting attacked by a junky, the person who needs to take a bus but can’t sit on the bus bench because someone is living there, or the person who is walking towards the ocean and is asked for money and we he doesn’t have any to give is told, “What goes around comes around.”

I have sympathy for the homeless. But, I also understand the pathway to homelessness. Family is the best safety net. But, I get it; there are some people, like me, who have no blood-family. Like I say, “I’m the last living person who remembers my father and/or my mother.” After that, if you hope to be supported, you must surround yourself with caring people. But, more than all of that, you really need to make focused and conscious choices in your life. You really need to prepare and protect yourself. Mostly, you need to stay away from the things that we all know are wrong and bad. Because bad is always bad and doing more bad based upon previous bad is never an excuse for the things you do and the way you behave that causes you to live a particular degenerative lifestyle.

Of course, I want to help. I always try to help anyone in any way that I can. I care! But, I also look to the root cause of where each person finds himself or herself in life.

So, what are you doing today that is setting the stage for your tomorrow? You can see where you are heading. You can see where you will end up if you continue to follow the pathway that you are on. All you have to do is look.

Honestly, what do you see? And, if you do find yourself on the down side of life don’t expect anyone to bail you out because maybe they just don’t carry cash anymore.