An Excerpt from Crossing Main by T J Therien

They closed down the Asylum on the outskirts of town a few years back. Would you believe they just released the patients? Just like that, people who had been institutionalized for large chunks of their lives were rubberstamped “Sane” and turned out onto the streets. It’s not like they had been cured, or anything, far from it. In fact, all their phobias and neurosis remained intact. In some cases their “Isms” were exasperated by the sudden change in their environment. For the most part, the former patients were not equipped with the skills they needed to survive in the real world. As a result most took to wandering the streets by day and sleeping on benches or in back alleys at night.

Being adjacent to the Madhouse, our sleepy little town felt the brunt when it was shut down. We were close enough in proximity that our town became a magnet for the former patients. The “Crazies,” as the townsfolk affectionately called them although some of the more eccentric earned their own little monikers like “Odd Todd” and “Slow Joe.” Really, for the most part they were harmless enough and posed no real danger. Still, nobody knew what to do about the problem. At first, police would round them up, but because they didn’t belong in jail and because there was nowhere else to keep them, once again they were just released. Homelessness became epidemic. Sure, we always had a couple of drunks and ne’er do wells, but nothing like after they closed the Mental Hospital.

So much like other callous cost cutting measures that fray the fabric of society, the powers that be gave little thought to the consequences of fiscal austerity. This should surprise nobody. Empathy and compassion are traits possessed by too few politicians and government workers. Common sense and good conscience are seldom criteria for policy, nor are they qualifiers in the decision making process. Shutting down the Mental Hospital was just a classic case of saving a few nickels and dimes at the expense of our humanity. It’s all about dollars, not sense.

Residents petitioned the politicians, first at the local level, then to the State and lastly to the Fed. Each in turn passed the buck to the next until it circled around to the first and the process began all over again. In the end nothing was done. The townsfolk gradually accepted the quirky ensemble of former patients squatting in the streets.

The good folk of our town did what good folk do, short of taking the former patients into their own homes. They did no more than they did for the drunkards and ne’er do wells. Good folk are almost always long on good intentions, but when it comes down to it, they don’t really want to get their hands dirty and people are messy, especially the mentally ill. So it fell to charity to care for these poor people and we all know the result that reaps. Instead of putting money directly to solutions Charities buy band aids with the money that’s left over after the marketing campaigns and salaries are paid. Like really, has any Charity ever cured any social ail? And so the problem persisted.

This is why no one took notice of the shabby man shuffling down the main drag with an old apple-crate tucked under his arm. Such sights had become so common-place in our sleepy little town that nobody discerned anything different from the shabby stranger and the other “Crazies.” He was just another invisible man, a stench that people sidestep to avoid the smell sticking to them. Those who did see him shot him looks of derision as he waded through the pedestrian traffic at the busiest time of the day.

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The Fatal Flaw

I’ve come to the conclusion
The problem isn’t with Capitalism
Democracy, Communism
Or Socialism, per se
The problem is people
People are corruptible
And power corrupts
But this is nothing new
It just took me this long to come to terms
With a truth I did not want to accept
Societies,
(regardless the political and economic model,)
Are doomed to fail solely because
We cannot remove the one fatal flaw
Us

T J Therien

On Differing Views

I know many people don’t share my views and that is okay. I don’t expect anyone to think like I think. I do hope to make people think whether they agree with me or not and that is really my only purpose. I know many people who have expressed views counter to mine and have expressed them rationally and thoughtfully and those views are every bit as valid as my own and they force me to walk through my own argument for why I think the way I do. I know seldom such debates will change minds, but if we are at least in part open-minded we can better understand each other on that sliver of ground where there is difference between people, because in almost every other regard people are the same.

Glorifying Villainy

If you fly a Confederate Flag you are endorsing Confederate “Values” and the right to own Human Beings as chattel. This is what the Confederacy fought for when they broke from the country, these are Battle Standards flown by those who fought to keep slavery intact. It is not Patriotic to fly the Confederate Flag, it is an act of open rebellion and disrespectful to America. These are the Facts. This is History. The Confederate Flag is the same as the Nazi Flag and the ISIS Flag in that they represent the Evil in People. The Monuments dedicated to Civil War Villains gives Honor to the Evil in People. Should we glorify people who warred to own other people. The Answer is unequivocally emphatically NO.