I have the Right to have a Right to have the Right

I like to think of myself as a compassionate man but compassion
is difficult when one considers the damage people do on purpose.

How do we find compassion for people who, riven with envy, lie without hesitation, damage reputations, and steal the hard work of other people?

How do we find compassion for people who abuse their power, who insinuate themselves into the lives of others to control them and who take without giving back?

How does one forgive years of abuse from an alcoholic parent?

How does one forgive a friend who plays mind games designed to make you doubt yourself, who projects their failings onto you and who malignantly smears you to your friends and colleagues.

Trust is essential to effective communication and to the work of forging a working social contract.

Here is a brief list of behaviors I consider unforgivable:

Slander; especially hurtful gossip; when you maliciously smear the reputations of decent people you lose the right to respect and compassion.

Users; these are people who treat the generosity and resources of other people as if they are their due.

Emotional Abuse: it is unforgivable to target the weaknesses of
others for abuse.

Any intentional act or decision that results in the death of
a child.

Any intentional behavior that meets the definition of torture.

Blatant and intentional hypocrisy.

Any abuse of power that limits the resources and opportunities of
our children, our elderly and our disabled.

Any use of the Federal Government to empower racists.

Treason and collusion with treason.

How do we find compassion for the unforgivable?

Take away my family,
Take away the right to speak
Take away my point of view,
Take away my right to choose

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017

 

 

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…And I think It’s Going to Rain Today…

I saw my first homeless person in December 1981,  35 years ago.

I shot this video on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

View at full screen, if you can.

Most people consider a sight an elderly man shoving a cart of wet
belongings in a drenching rain normal.

They want to live like this, we say.

The State Hospitals were so much worse, we say.

It’s too expensive to fix, we say.

Think of all the lies we have to tell ourselves
to make the daily sight of human suffering
seem normal.

Then remember that all of it is the result of our vote.

Tin can at my feet
Think I’ll kick it down the street
That’s the way to treat a friend

The video is made from photographs of San Francisco’s mentally ill
homeless between 2012 and 2015.

“I Think it’s Going to Rain Today”
Song by Judy Collins
Lyrics by Randy Newman

Mother, You Need Shoes

Mother, You Need Shoes

 

I would not have noticed her had our subway car not cleared of people
at Lexington Avenue.

She wore a tattered stocking cap.

She removed it and stuffed it into her jacket.

She held a grimy white bag between her legs.

She reached into it and pulled out half a doughnut.

That was when I noticed her shoes.

The uppers had split from the soles; she wrapped
her feet in newspaper and rags.

I thought, Mother, you need shoes.

I wondered if forty dollars would do.

I looked up and watched her untangle a lock of matted grey hair.

She reached into her bag and found a bobby pin.

She styled the loosened lock of hair into a bun

I had forty dollars.

But it was for vitamins; specifically, anti-oxidants.

My body is rusting faster than a wet Ford.

The crows feet around my eyes whispered: erase us; your happiness
is our absence.

I examined the old woman’s cracked and broken shoes; they
were useless for January in New York.

She closed her eyes, ready to savor a long warm ride.

Maybe she lives in the subway!

Like those people in Dark Days.

If she never leaves the subway she doesn’t need new shoes!

My crow’s-feet said yes!

But that can’t be right, I thought; an old woman, alone, with
nothing but a stale doughnut for dinner.

I felt myself stand and watched as I took two twenties out of my wallet.

Then I knelt and said, “Mother, you need shoes.”

She smiled at me and nodded in agreement.

“Will forty dollars do?”

“Yes,” she said, “God bless you.”

I smiled and returned to my seat, and listened as my crow’s-feet maliciously threatened to spread.

 

Rob Goldstein (c) 2014-2017 All Rights Reserved

 

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A Butterfly for my Forever Mom

Art by Rob Goldstein

A year ago Linda Bethea and her Mother, Kathleen Swain, did two of the nicest things two strangers have ever done for me.

Linda sent me the gift of a hand designed bag and Kathleen sent me a drawing and a hand written note that claimed me as her Forever Son.

At the time I didn’t know what that term meant.

When I looked it up and saw the definition I was touched on so many levels of emotion that I hardly knew what to do.

A year later and I see how that gesture of compassion healed me in ways that I still don’t fully fathom.

What I do know is that it was an act that changed my life for the better.

When we help to make the lives of other people better we make life better for ourselves as well.

I never forget an act of kindness.

Thank you to Linda and to your wonderful Mother.

There is more grace in my life because of you.