Twice homeless, I’ve seen self-love and lust for money blind our souls to the misery of others

By Edward LaGrossa

In response to “Transient-related crime is no exaggeration,” Power to Speak, Feb. 19

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

— Matthew 25:40

There is a funny South Korean drum-and-flute brigand that for years has been marching up and down the Venice boardwalk chanting “Je-sus Christ, Je-sus Christ,” while everyone is yelling back at them: “If you loved Jesus you’d feed us.”

What on Earth have we become in Venice? The homeless have been slowly dying right in front of our soul-dead eyes for several decades now, and all we do is pretend they are somehow less human than we are — and oh so self-righteously, I might add.

People would step over a dying homeless man to worship a dead homeless man from 2,000 years ago they do not know or understand and think they are doing something good.

I became homeless back in 1974 when my mom suddenly died. I was 18 then and never knew my dad. For a long time I slept in my car. I was glad I had one.

Today I’m a music producer with my own 24-hour access studio, but as little as 10 years ago I was a homeless musician on the Venice boardwalk — this time after a vicious divorce in which I lost my children to a cruel and unusual family court system.

I was a broken, angry man but Venice took me in. Through the love of some people (mostly women) feeding us homeless every day on the Venice boardwalk, I was slowly nurtured back to health and finding fulfilling work.

Everyone on the boardwalk has that potential.

Ever talk to a homeless person? Ever look at them in the eyes with real sincerity as if they were your long-lost child and ask them what happened to them in their lives? I have. And they all have the same story to tell. They were rejected, beaten or raped by a parent, sibling, husband or lover and they haven’t emotionally recovered from our cruel, indifferent, money-worshiping society. So they sit and wait out death right in front of our cold-blooded eyes.

The contrast between the rich and the poor in our beach community has reached a dangerous level where we’ve created desperate people who resent being left to die while they see us luxuriate in our financial splendor and self-love. The lust for money in our society has brought this spiritual death right to our shores quite literally. With the influx of 20- and 30-somethings building castles for themselves through their concocted Silicon Beach real estate scheme that only young, rich and self-obsessed tech nerds can enter, we have become one of the most stratified communities on the planet.

What is our saving grace? We can adopt a homeless person. Not literally, but spiritually.

Give him a shower every once in a while. A meal. Some clean clothes. Let him talk. Don’t lecture him. Don’t condescend to him. Love him from afar. Love the homeless just the way they are. They don’t have to move into your house. Love them without designs. In their raggedness. Love their way of looking at things. Look how they live and die, and compare that with how you watch TV on an average of five hours a day if you’re a typical American — thereby, you don’t live life at all.

Life is a precious thing. We waste it for the most part because we do not know how to love selflessly.

This is how to love; how to give your life depth and meaning. This is Venice Beach.

We all want a safe beach. This is how we will get one. This is what mankind has been doing for each other for thousands of years. The extreme narcissism of our present society can be reversed by a very simple gesture of empathy and compassion for a fellow human being. And we can do it on a massive scale, with Venice Beach leading the way.

That is creating a balanced, real and fulfilling life. Share yours with those who materially have nothing yet can teach us the meaning of freedom and compassion, raising the spiritual value of life for us all.

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