The 10 Commandments of Eric Jonathan Sheptock
With me having spent, at this point, a full 20% of my almost 47 years advocating for the poor and homeless, it stands to reason that I'd be able to conceptualize my stance and my concerns pertaining to the issue of homelessness. As it turns out, I can and will. After all, no one knows with certainty how long they have to live and it would be a crying shame if, after all these years, people only knew about my specific demands and not about my broader principles.
Mitch Snyder passed away in 1990, after 16 years of advocacy. He, like me, was almost 47. Now the shelter which his leadership helped to create is on the verge of being closed. Toward the end of the CCNV Task Force process, the current director read a long letter which he claimed represents the will of CCNV's board and administration. It was, among other things, a diatribe against DC Government for “trying to push CCNV around”. It didn't call me out specifically, in spite of my pronounced role in causing then-Councilman Jim Graham to create the task force. Maybe it was because the board knew that such an assault on me would double as a recognition of my ability to influence local homeless politics.
In the letter the director stated that Mitch Snyder would have wanted to maintain the shelter – that he would not have wanted it shut down, in full or in part. I challenge that conclusion on the grounds that Mr. Snyder helped those who would otherwise have to sleep outdoors in the elements to sleep indoors – even if it meant sleeping in a decrepit shelter. In the late 80's there were many homeless people; but, the fight for affordable housing was still nascent. Given the conditions of his era, we can't say with absolute certainty that Mitch would have summarily dismissed the opportunities for a mix of better shelter and affordable housing that were created by the task force process. So, let's stop putting words in the mouths of dead people and say what we the living stand for. It's also a good idea for me to use the internet (which Mitch Snyder didn't have at his disposal) to put my thoughts into cyberspace where anyone with access can read what I wrote verbatim. It is with that in mind that I narrow my many thoughts down to these 10 commandments:
1 – Work toward the creation of a full-on Socialist System (for now) in the U.S.: True Communism completely opposes and eliminates the conditions that allow some to be “filthy rich” while others are “dirt poor” (with both groups being “unclean”). However, Socialism, in its truest form, is the “Robinhood of governance” that forces the rich to give to the poor. Socialism, of which America has “symptoms” but not a “system”, can be brought about through a bloodless revolution – unlike Communism.
2 – Support a Hillary Clinton/ Bernie Sanders ticket in 2016 and elect those who come from oppressed, suppressed and marginalized groups in other elections – both in 2016 and in future years: We've never had a woman as president and Americans who are still caught in the throes of McCarthy-ism need to develop the ability to think for themselves about what is best for the nation and the world.
3 – Even if you don't support Communism with its proven healthcare benefits, vehemently oppose capitalism: The last seven years should have taught us about the biggest flaws of capitalism – a system that must not merely be reined in, but completely obliterated. (Socialism is a stepping stone that can move us in that direction.) Wall Street greed and speculation led to an economic downturn that hurt millions of average citizens. Even so, capitalists encourage people to “take risks” albeit with other people's money. Let me remind you that Jamie Dimon lost $6 billion dollars on a bad bet but kept his job.
The famously angry DICK CHENEY epitomizes the best that the Republican party has to offer. He is said to have been the most powerful vice president this country has seen to date. He was the driving force behind the Iraq war. He functioned as president of the senate when the GOP was still relevant and still had a bit of moral standing – that having changed dramatically since he left office. While the Democrats offer supports that are “intended” to connect people to jobs, the GOP is more likely to pull the rug out from under the poor and to demand that they pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It is not hard for me to see how some of the laws and policies that Republicans put upon the American people are intended to promote morality and good principle. However, they've failed to formulate sensible and humane process for reaching their supposed goal of a moral and godly America.
Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump represents the worst of the GOP. He has taken the risks that capitalists love to take and filed for bankruptcy four times. The casino owner evidently wants to gamble with more lives. The fact that he can make so many off-color remarks and remain the front-runner for any length of time says something extremely negative about the GOP base.
4 – Build a voting base of anti-GOP (including third-party) women: Wealthy, austere men are the people who do the most to make the capitalist system what it is. Additionally, a candidate for the oppressed, suppressed and marginalized needs people from these groups to vote for them.
5 – Any effort for systemic change must begin with and approach to government for redress of grievances and end with that government meeting the needs of its constituents or being overthrown: While capitalism has many pillars that include the police and military, the laws and policies that government makes (or fails to make) create conditions that either allow capitalism to run amuck or rein it in.
6 – in terms of how the public approaches government, they should be more like a taskmaster than a prison warden: A warden locks people up and makes them sit down for the wrong they've done. A taskmaster forces people to do their assigned jobs. It is necessary to have government, as opposed to anarchy. Emphasis should be placed on forcing government to be effective, not ridding ourselves of it.
7 – Aggressively oppose all that you know to be wrong in the world around you: I immediately jumped on board when two ladies told the 240 men at Franklin School Shelter about the impending closure which would have left some people with no place to sleep indoors. On April 10th, 2010 I chased a robber who I witnessed taking a woman's camera and told 911 where he was running. The police eventually caught up with him. I have no tolerance for those who are slow to stand up to wrong.
8 – Develop a social theory that explains your stance on societal issues: I'm obviously a Communist at heart, believing that the Book of Acts in the Bible and many of Christ's quotes throughout the Gospels point to a pre-Marxism form of Communism or "Ubuntu" (I am because we are). It may take another American Revolution or World War III to eradicate capitalism and bring about the egalitarian, polygamous system that Christ will establish on the New Earth.
9 – Challenge any poor reasoning by government: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney got us into a war that they initially claimed was intended to stop Saddam Hussein from acquiring additional weapons of mass destruction. Politics aside, it doesn't make sense to fight someone because you dislike their dangerous weapons. Neither does it make sense for a nation to agree to disarm itself so as to give its enemy the upper hand in a future war. I'll stop there for now in terms of stupid government "reasoning".
10 – Push for a society in which every able-bodied person is working only as long as necessary, in lieu of technology.: Many people are losing their jobs to technology. This exposes one of the contradictions of capitalism. The capitalists are so intent on increasing their bottom line that they lay off thousands of workers per corporation. These former employees were also consumers. These laid off people have lost their buying power and the corporation has, in effect, shrunken its customer base. Some companies, rather than laying people off, will cut everybody's hours back equally. This keeps everyone employed and enables the company to bring everyone back to working 40 hours per week if necessary. It should be the standard which replaces lay offs.
Communist motto: From each according to ability; to each according to need.