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Everyone Matters — A Lasting Lesson from a Lost Brother

As one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters in Slaughterhouse-Five says, “It’s a crime to be poor in America.” This is a truth my brother Larry experienced for decades. Larry taught me that everyone matters, and this lesson fueled a longing for a world whose policies and conditions reflected this basic fact.

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Living in the Dark Ages in Modern America

There is no excuse for political leaders and for the wealthy people who influence them to allow widespread poverty, hunger and disease. The starvation and disease that continue in many places would not exist if the people who hoard most of the wealth cared about helping their fellow human beings.

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Homelessness Means Being Cast Out of Civilization

If we become homeless, we find that the police aren’t here to protect and serve. Instead, they have become the strong arm of the law that tells us where we can’t be. It is the same arm that could punish us by taking us to jail for panhandling, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

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Keeping Promises, While Remaining Open to the Spirit

My Moslem friends say “Insha’ Allah.” My Jewish and Christian friends say “God willing” or “If the Lord wills.” What is sacred and sagacious in these expressions is the admission that all of our plans and promises are subject to the unexplained, unsolicited and, at times, unwelcome veto of the Almighty.

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Oakland Pastor Reflects on the Occupy Movement

We, like 99% of the people marching in Oakland, were unified by the desperate condition of our world, our families and our future. We were the cry of the lost oak trees that once lived here, as well as the moans of the Ohlone people who once thrived here.

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Surviving Uncaring Board and Care Homes

I have experienced endless abuses in board and care homes, including substandard housing, lack of food and rigid rules that treat adults like children. Even the name “board and care” is a misnomer. All too often, the people who ran these homes couldn’t care less about their residents.

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The Mosaic Tree: A Community Creation

The tree we created is a fascinating reminder of what can be accomplished by a full spectrum of people working together toward a worthwhile cause. When it storms, this tree will hold fast to its roots. Raindrops can resemble tears. And like tears, they will one by one dry.

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Answers to Our Prayers: The Bearing Witness Chronicles

I was sitting at a cafe watching the world go by when the world came to me and taught me about answered prayers and belonging. A homeless person who had been sitting near us said, “I believe in miracles.” I turned to him and said, “Oh yeah?”

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The Bearing Witness Chronicles: Fly Like an Eagle

The Bearing Witness Chronicles: Fly Like an Eagle

I was walking down the street one day when I decided that it was time for my life to take off. I looked down and found my arms slowly flapping up and down. A homeless man saw me and began to sing, “Fly like an eagle.”

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Resurrection of the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Barber told the activists gathered in the nation’s capital that by demonstrating in solidarity with poor people, they had become a link in the long history of people who fought for justice.

Hate Crime Laws Needed to Protect the Homeless

As homelessness becomes more visible, people living on the streets are targeted for bullying, assaults, harassment and even murders.

Life Is A Precious Gift: Mother Teresa’s House in Washington

We will never know how many huge pots of soup Jacob lifted with the sisters into trucks, to take to the homeless in the park. We will never know how many diseased bodies he fed, held and bathed, and the number of tears he dried in the early morning hours.

Mother Teresa’s Gift of Love in San Francisco

She took home with her the men who had only a few days left to live and were suffering the most, and tenderly cared for them around the clock. I am certain some of the people I was meeting were angels, whose job was to make certain no soul died alone and unloved.

My Back Pages: A Song for Miss Kay

She softly sings the soul anthem “Stand By Me.” It is a song for Miss Kay, a song for all of us. Her life, with its music and joy, followed by a downward slide into homelessness and death, tells us something deeper than words about the human condition.

My Back Pages: Kerry’s Kids, An Undying Dream

Oakland pediatrician Dr. Karen Kruger said, “Kerry’s death was so sudden and seemingly purposeless and shocking that I think there was a need for people that loved her to carry on her memory in a way that she would look down on from her cloud and be happy about.”