“Do the right thing.” Four simple words, but not so simple in the execution. Fundamentalists will tell you that there is always a clear choice between right and wrong, good and evil; like black and white. Haven’t we seen where fundamentalists have led us too many times before? There were the persecutions of scientists like Galileo. There was the Inquisition. There were the Crusades. Pogroms against the Jews. There were the witch burnings in Salem. (My great, great … aunt Lydia was killed as a ‘witch’ there. She probably cured someone with native herbs, who was supposed to die according to “God’s will”.) There were the racially pure lynch mobs. There are the “missionaries” training African countries to kill gays. There are the fundamentalist Muslim jihadists who are killing Christians and Jews. Stalin’s various purges. (He was a fundamentalist communist.) The list goes on.
We can start out firmly (perhaps too firmly) convinced that our cause is right. We take action and things can go terribly sideways and we can become the thing that we set out opposing. This video illustrates this, when a bunch of little kids form a gang to go after a gang of older bullies to recover one of their friend’s bicycle.
We had a situation with some parallels to this at what we affectionately call Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys a few weeks ago. I wrote about how a local pastor basically dumped a family there in True Story. It turns out they were actively using addicts. The priest never called to check in on them, never accepted or returned their phone calls; has never offered support to John for keeping them there; did not call John to check in to thank him and check in to see how they were doing, etc.
I was working with them on a plan to aid them through withdrawal off the opioids. John was willing to work with them. He had given up his bedroom with his memory foam, queen size bed for the parents, while he slept, with broken ribs, on the lumpy couch. At my advice, he locked his shop for the first time ever. I provided them with counselling and herbs that would help detoxify their bodies more quickly to shorten the withdrawal process. they were not ready or willing to start it. They were still actively grifting and getting high and lying to everyone in the house and sowing discord.
Another resident of the house, nickname Charlie, is manic. Charlie returned from a long weekend away and caught wind of the fact that John had lent these people money. (I had told them if they asked John for one more dime, they were out of the house, because we were all helping out of a position of weakness, not of strength.) Charlie went ballistic and wanted to throw them out that night. I had to simmer him down. John was at work. It was 11pm. We agreed that Charlie could kick them out in the morning. The community did not take this decision lightly. We felt on some level that we had failed them. I did point out that they were no worse off than when they came. We had saved them from freezing to death in their car. The danger of that had passed now. They had abused the hospitality offered by lying, grifting, and continuing to do drugs. This put everyone in the house at risk. Everyone still felt bad. It was a good thing to see. Everyone still agreed that it needed to be done. The addicts had simply not bottomed out.
Charlie takes things to extremes. He called the priest and conflated the Orthodox Church and every scandal and every rumor of a scandal ever charged against the Roman Catholic church and hurled it at this priest, much like these boys in the video with their piss filled super soakers. He demanded that Fr. reimburse John for the money he had given to these people, etc. His plan was to continue the tirade by delivering the family onto the church lawn saying that Father will take care of you now. The family beat him to the punch and left before he could lead them anywhere and were already over there arguing with the priest on the lawn of the church when Charlie got there and he just observed from afar. Charlie also called the Bishop to talk to Father’s boss and left many rude and slanderous messages there.
Charlie is manic. He is brilliant. He is a hard worker. He is nearly impossible to live with. John Haggerty welcomes him into his home and gives him space to complete his work that has potential to save and help heal thousands of lives. Charlie’s full nickname is “Colonel Charlie Manson” for just these kinds of antics, but we love him.
Father did reimburse John for the $300 he had loaned the addicts and added another $100 for his troubles. God bless him.
John & I have rescued each other numerous times in the last eight years that we have been neighbors. John is a solid worker in The King’s Jubilee. Our freezers are in his shop. He makes most of our furniture deliveries. He was by my side for the whole of the court hearing when we had to sue the city. Before that, he accompanied me to all the meetings with various coalitions and groups that were strategizing to fight the mayor on his decrees against the homeless. He was very droll about meeting with more anarchists and communists and hippies, but always a good sport. He tries to keep me grounded.
John chides me for the fact that he has a houseful of homeless men. I’m not sure I can take much credit for that. Perhaps I made him more aware of the world outside of his windowless shop, but I can’t take credit for his heart of compassion or his patience.
This economy has hit him hard. He has had a hard time of it. Once one gets behind, it is next to impossible to catch up. He is in bankruptcy and that is in jeopardy. I started a GoFundMe for him this week to try to save his home and save the bankruptcy plan, so he would not lose all his tools and everything. You may also send funds directly to John without incurring any fees by designating it as a “gift” and using your Paypal to his Paypal account:
Or you may mail checks to John Haggerty, 107 E. Chestnut St., Souderton, PA 18964.
So I guess it’s time for all of us to step up and “do the right thing” and rescue John’s house from foreclosure. I would also like you to consider making a monthly pledge to The King’s Jubilee, so we can provide ongoing support and a safety net for John and the men at Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys.