Monday, November 30, 2015

Truth and Lies

One of my "followers" on Twitter has paid me two incredible compliments that are dear to my heart, and those statements have prompted the following post.
I have many "followers" who have applauded my candor, and I thank them for that. But, there are people who run across me on Twitter who do not understand straight-forwardness, nor do they accept challenges. What those people do not understand is that I am allergic to lies. When someone approaches me with information that does not match with what I know to be true, I challenge it. If the person is able to persuade me that I am wrong, I change my assessment. However, most times people simply respond with "You are stupid!", "You are lying!", "You do not know what you are talking about!", or some variation of the above.
Let me tell everyone a little bit about myself. I grew up as an only child. I hated it. I kept begging my parents for a brother or sister, and I did not understand why they would not give me one (or more). To make matters worse, I was suffocated. They were over-protective to the point of obsession. I even got into trouble one time for giving our phone number to my school when the teacher asked for it, only to be tongue-lashed when I got home because our number was unlisted! I had absolutely no idea what my parents' problem was.
When I was 21, I went to visit my grandmother whom I had not seen in years. By this time, I had been on my own for a long time and was estranged from my parents. Soon after I arrived, she dragged out the obligatory photo albums, and while I really did not want to go through them I loved her more than anyone on Earth so I sat patiently as she went through her collection. My grandmother turned to one page and covered a photograph so that the only thing visible was someone's hands clasped in his lap. She asked me, "Don't those look just like your father's hands?" I looked and replied, "Yeah", and she uncovered the picture. I did not recognize the person, so I asked her who it was. Impatiently, she answered, "That's Mark, of course!" I said, "Mark, who?"
She gasped.
My grandmother turned white as a sheet.
She slammed the photo album shut, grabbed all of the books, stuffed them back into the coffee table, and started to turn away.
At 21, my brain worked faster than any super-computer. I demanded that she tell me who Mark was, already having a pretty good idea what her answer was going to be.
She said, "Oh, no! Your parents will kill me!"
I replied, "No, they will not, because I am going to kill them first!"
So, reluctantly, she told me what she knew of my parents' sordid past, which was not much. She only knew my father's version of events as no one in my family knew anything about my mother. The short story is they met while married to other people, fell into lust, and ran off together. It is the stuff bad Harlequin romance novels are made of, although my mother's divorce record turned out to be a fascinating read, complete with kidnapping, taking children across state lines, the FBI...everything you could want in a good mystery.
But, that day my grandmother only knew that they had met, eventually married each other, and that my father had three children by his ex-wife and one out-of-wedlock by another woman. So, I spent the following year investigating my own life. This was long before Al Gore invented the Internet, so I had to do it the old-fashioned way. Snail-mail and leg work. The results of my research do not matter. What matters is I learned how to detect the truth.
You see, I looked back on my childhood and saw a plethora of warning signs that indicated my parents were hiding something really big, but I was too young to interpret their behavior. Since my grandmother gave me what was then the shock of my life, I have learned to examine things. I have now spent 33 years as an investigator and analyst, and I have become a walking bullshit detector. I call it as soon as I smell it, and I am rarely wrong.
But, I have been wrong, and when I realize I am wrong I am willing to reassess my position. That is what analysts do. We make judgments based upon available information, and when other information comes along we reassess our previous judgment. At least, that is what a GOOD analyst does.
So, I thank my "follower" for having taken the time to give me the information I needed in order to change my assessment on a topic he and I went back-and-forth on for weeks. It was not so much my analytical ability as it was his patience, knowledge, and ability to present his facts in such a way that I was able to see what he was trying to tell me.
If only other people on social media (and in real life) had his talents.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Veteran's Day and the Homeless

I am a United States Air Force veteran. My father (deceased) was career Navy. My readers know how hard I advocate every day both for America and for Israel. My followers on Twitter know I am a relentless, no-holds-barred advocate for what I believe to be right.
Only those who pay very close attention know I am homeless.
I rarely write about it, but the fact is two years ago I was robbed of everything I had. I was in Washington, D.C., staying in a motel, preparing to take this fight public, when someone broke into it while I was at the store. Everything was gone. Identification, files, money, bank card, phone, etc. And because the number to my bank card was stored on my phone, by the time I found the number and called the company the card had been depleted. That quickly I was homeless. Now, to the casual observer, it sounds easy to recover. Pull up your bootstraps and march on, right? Well, ponder this:
You are not in the state where you reside, nor in the state where you were born. You have no identification, and no money by which to replace that identification. What do you do?
Well, it took a couple of weeks just to find a place that would pay for my birth certificate. It took two months for it to arrive by mail. I could not replace my driver's license because that cannot be done by mail, so I had to find someplace that would pay for a state ID, which took another month. Replace my social security card? Not without state ID! Get my VA identification back? Not without waiting another two months and finding yet another mailing address!
Meanwhile, what about food? Clothing? Never mind shelter. I tried the shelter routine. Here is how that works: You struggle to get things like shaving razors, snack food, and nail files. It gets cold, so you go to a shelter. Do you know what security does? THROW EVERYTHING IN THE TRASH. After all, I am homeless so necessarily I am mentally ill, drug-addicted, running from the law and homicidal (and of course the shelter does not want to attract ants). So, now I have to find the money to replace those items. No thanks.
People do not understand what it is like to be out here. They, like the security I just described, lump everyone into one category. Yes, a good majority of the people here have issues. But, some of us were just on a shoestring budget when fate struck and now we are in the black hole called "homelessness".
I did not join the Air Force for freebies. I was a starry-eyed patriot. I never even approached the VA for medical care until 30 years after my discharge. But I have to say, I resent Obama's promises to get homeless veterans off the streets by this year. Do not promise us anything unless you intend to deliver. Wednesday I cannot even take advantage of the offers restaurants are making for free meals for veterans because I still do not have my stolen VA ID replaced.
However, I know God will bring someone into my life to at least buy me a taco while I try to find a way out of this quagmire. I just hope maybe this post will open some of my reader's eyes to just how insane the situation is for hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans...and the many other non-veterans who are homeless but not insane, former felons, nor drug addicts.
So you ask, how am I online? It took months, but I saved up enough to buy a cheap laptop at Best Buy and WiFi is free in many places. I made a decision not to allow my personal circumstances to interfere with my advocacy. America and Israel are far more important than my personal comfort. So, while I cannot get paid work without an address nor a phone (nor a social security card), my work continues.
I guess I am still that starry-eyed patriot.
Happy Veteran's Day to all.