In honor of President’s Day today, I’ve decided to become president. (It’s kind of a Norman Vincent Peale thing.)… I recently referenced a talk I went to in Rome, Georgia, about the writings of G.K. Chesterton. During the talk, presenter Tom Farmer read a number of famous Chesterton quotes. In referring to modern man being lost in a fog of mental thought, Chesterton said: “Mankind has always lost his way — but now he has lost his address.” And that, indeed, is metaphorically correct in our post modern society. However at our next stop in the heart of Atlanta, we met a good number of people who have lost their physical address as well… We arrived at the Open Door Community in downtown Atlanta to do research for a position paper we’re drafting on poverty. The Open Door is a Catholic Worker House serving the poor and homeless. We were given a tour of the house by Calvin Kimbrough. He said in the lead up to the Olympics in Atlanta, “the city was turned into a Disneyland for people with money.” One of the byproducts was a lot of low income housing was torn down for parts of the Olympic Village, and so on. Coupled with this, metropolitan Atlanta is going through a major “gentrification” process in general. That is, more low income housing is being demolished, and in turn, more high-priced condos, and the like, are going up for such demographic populations as young urban professionals. The result: More poor are on the streets, like Rob… I talked to Rob outside the Open Door while he was waiting to get into the Soup Kitchen. He told me he’d been homeless the past six months. And with temperatures in the mid-20s the night before, he said he’d slept at a homeless shelter a couple miles away. There had been 700 people in the shelter, and some 15 fights had broken out during the course of the night, Rob lamented… Later that night before dinner for the volunteers, Mr. Kimbrough prayed: “Oh Lord, afflict those of us who are warm and full…” Continuing on that theme, the next day I gave a talk to a group of volunteers who had come in to help from all parts of metropolitan and suburban Atlanta. I said that the ultimate social justice irony is that we shelter cars in this society, while people like Rob sleep on the streets… And not only are they on the streets, but Atlanta, of late, has made it even more uncomfortable for them to be on the streets. Open Door volunteer Lauren Cogswell told me the city has passed ordinances to create a “Vagrant Free Zone,” in tandem with those on the streets being arrested for things like “urban camping,” jay walking, loitering. “They are called ‘Quality of Life’ ordinances, but they are really ‘Quality of Death’ ordinances for the poor,” said Ms. Cogswell, who added Atlanta seems much more concerned about tourist dollars than they are about their own poor… And in this paradigm (tourist dollars, gentrification, cars in suburban garages while children sleep on the streets…) is the crux of the problem, according to Georgia State University Philosophy Professor Jeannie Alexander. (She also volunteers at the Open Door.) Professor Alexander said that a person of faith’s economic philosophy, in the face of current inner city, and Third World, poverty, should be: Once your basic needs for shelter, food, clothing, medicine and transportation are met, to increase your comfort is nothing short of “acting immorally.” Professor Alexander added that why this is seldom, if ever, heard from the pulpit is because most modern day priests and ministers are living square in the middle of their own ‘comfort immorality.’ Note: During the three days at the Open Door, I came across a New York Times article about people buying mini-factory built “second homes” for vacation properties. These homes range from, say, a 10-foot-square cabana for about $9,000 to a 700-square-foot “weeHouse” from Alchemy Architects in northern Minnesota… I couldn’t help but think as I read the article, how these places would look like mansions to the Robs of the world. And if we put these houses on the properties of our primary residences and shared, for instance, a common kitchen, the homeless would start to feel like family. And in all this, who knows, God might start preparing at least weeHouses for us in a place where the “last will be first.”   Translated: This means Rob will be in the mansion.   (See the ‘rich guy and Lazarus the beggar’ biblical parable.)

About Joe Schriner

Common man, Common sense, Uncommon solutions. "In an era when presidential campaigns run on multi-million dollar war chests, lavish fundraising dinners and high gloss television ads, Joe Schriner is a different breed of candidate." - The Herald, Monterey, California. Joe at a glance... Age: 56. Family: Husband of 17 years, and father. Faith: Catholic. Home state: Ohio. Graduate of Bowling Green State University. Journalist and author. Also a former addictions counselor, with an emphasis on family systems. Independent presidential candidate in four successive election cycles. On the road campaigning extensively. In between campaign tours, now does part-time house painting and light handyman work to make ends meet (aka: Joe the painter). Volunteer work with: Brown County (OH) Board of Mental Health; Catholic Worker outreach to the poor in the inner city of Cleveland; We Are the Uninsured Healthcare Movement in Ohio. Inner city youth league baseball and soccer coach (won some, lost some). Hobbies: Trying to beat his wife at "Scrabble," weight lifting, swimming, photography, sandlot baseball, soccer, football and basketball with his children. In Joe's words... I'm, for the most part, your average Midwesterner, I told the Duluth (MN) News. I jog in a pair of gray sweats. My favorite spots to eat are your basic diners. Whats more, I cut my own lawn. Oh, and Im running for president. I told the Lancaster (OH) Eagle Gazette that the reason I am running for president is that I am a concerned parent. That is, I don't want to leave a world of climate change, war, abortion, rural and inner city poverty, violent streets, nuclear proliferation, astronomical national debt, little social security, dwindling access to healthcare to our children. What sane parent would? Now, I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or even Rutgers for that matter. I went to Bowling Green State University where I majored in journalism. I then worked for a couple intermediate-sized Ohio newspapers. I later became an addictions counselor. And in 1990, as a lead up to the presidential run, I took my journalism skills on the road to look for common sense solutions to the societal problems I outlined above. And in some tremendously extensive, cross-country research (that has continued during my years of campaigning), I've found those solutions.        Getting policies enacted... Amidst abject poverty on the Southside of Chicago, I learned how to end homelessness. In Atwood, Kansas (pop. 1,500), I learned how to balance the National Budget. In Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned how to get quality healthcare for all. In High Springs, Florida, I learned how to end global warming, for good. In Eunice, New Mexico, I learned how to unequivocally solve the immigration issue. And it was with this information, and much more, that I am running for president. No big money. No special interest backing. Just with tried solutions to make the country a much better place for our kids. While campaigning for president the past 12 years (and over 100,000 road miles), I've been telling people about these answers in hundreds of talks, more than 1,000 newspapers, a lot of radio, television and in a very up-close-and-personal way on the street corners of America. I told Channel 10 News in Albany, Georgia, that I can get a policy enacted long before I ever get to D.C., if somebody picks up on an idea and tries it in their town. And who knows how far out it will ripple out from there. So in a small way, I said during a talk at Toledo University, I am already president now! The students all smiled, politely. Be the change... I am also a firm believer that this won't be a better world for our children until more of us follow the saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this pursuit, my family and I try to live the messages we are conveying, at least the best we can. On a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, I said our platform asks some people to consider moving into the inner cities of America to live side-by-side with the poor. So our family moved to the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, where we volunteered at an outreach to the poor. I told the Tifton (GA) Gazette that our family has also set aside a Christ Room for the homeless at our place. And in D.C. we'd do the same thing in the West Wing. Just like I may well be looking for a youth baseball team to coach when I get there. I recently coached an inner city Rec. Center League team in Cleveland. On draft day I picked the kids who looked liked they'd be picked last, first. And apparently I did pretty well with this, because we lost almost all the games. Many of the kids on the team, sadly, didn't have a father at home. And many of these families don't have healthcare insurance either, just like two million other Ohioans. To help try to reverse this, my children and I have done volunteer work for the We Are The Uninsured Movement in Ohio. The reason our children are involved is because Liz and I want them learning as much about helping others -- as they do learning about math, science and English, I told The Mississippi Press. In fact, our education platform calls for a lot more local community involvement with students. I we also propose many more classes be focused on environmental awareness. To do our family's part for the environment, we created a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone." (I even put a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone" sign up in the front yard, to Liz's embarrassment.) We live in small places, use little air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, bicycle or walk almost everywhere within a five-mile radius and we recycle practically everything. And in D.C., we'd do all this as well. I mean, those big black limos alone can be such gas guzzlers anyway, right? Heal the family... "My concern for the environment, for the disadvantaged, for the unborn flows out of my spirituality. I'm Catholic, and trying to live the essence of the Gospel message is what I try to be about," I told columnist Mike Haynes of the Amarillo (TX) Globe News. And part of living the Gospel message is being centered in faith, having time for family, being concerned about others. I'm not the poster guy for all that, but I try. What's more, its Liz and my role to make sure our children have a wholesome and emotionally healthy upbringing. And I have some additional expertise in the latter area. Besides having been a journalist, I was also a counselor who worked with family system dynamics. And it is my contention that the current breakdown of the family in America (parents being physically or emotionally abusive, or absent, or addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, media entertainment, work) is creating a constellation of societal problems, I told ABC News in Monterey, California. Because of these dysfunctional family dynamics (and they seem to be everywhere these days), kids grow up depressed, angry and emotionally empty. As a result, incidence of domestic violence, street violence, addiction, mental and emotional problems spike in kind for the next generation, and the next... "So to heal the country, you have to heal the family. Theres just no way around it," I told the Bangor (ME) News. And we have a solid plan to do this, based on research weve done in Arthur, Illinois, Holbrook, Arizona, Carmel Valley, California, etc. Snow shoveling... Now when I'm not grappling with these pressing societal issues, my wife Liz is beating me at "Scrabble" (an issue in itself), or I'm playing racquetball with some buddies, or I'm trading baseball cards with our kids. That is, I'm doing all this in between doing chores for Liz. During a campaign talk in Wichita, Kansas, I was asked what the first thing I'd do as president was. I responded that "wed get to D.C. in January, so it would probably be snowing. If that, indeed, were the case -- the first thing Liz would have me do is: shovel the walk. " That will probably be a new one for the Secret Service. And so it goes... Joe

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