Host Robert Strock dives into the complexities of the homelessness crisis in the state of California and other urban areas. He focuses on solutions that provide a sense of belonging and community, where people can be nourished and feel at home instead of temporary housing. If we start talking about these solutions as a community and society, we can rebuild our infrastructure to support people at all income levels. As we begin to explore options that help those in the most need, we can contemplate and redefine our relationship with money recognizing that we are at a time like no other in human history where the needs of the planet are blatant and vital. It can become a natural tool for inspiration, joy, purpose, and connectedness. The process of internal questioning can help us develop international values, qualities, actions, and thoughts to think of ourselves as part of a global unit rather than dominantly being separate beings taking care of ourselves. If we can continue to question our challenging feelings and situations, they can lead us to how we can fulfill our deepest needs and care for everyone around us.
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The Missing Conversation, Episode 25.
Robert Strock: (00:05)
The reason why we’re great is because we’re moving toward being inclusive of everyone’s equal, right? To have an opportunity to survive. And we’re moving toward creating a planet that can survive.
On this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view. Your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation and inquiry born from working on his own challenges.
Robert Strock: (01:00)
I give you a warm welcome again to The Missing Conversation. That is The Missing Conversations that are not happening, to the best of my knowledge in the world, where we address the most pressing issues that the world is facing today. And where we look for the most practical, inspiring programs and innovative ideas to support the survival of our very planet and doing our best to find a sense of unity, inspiration, and fulfillment that both we and the world needs so very badly. And I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, who’s my partner at Global Bridge Foundation co-president and my 50-year closest friend.
Great to be here. It’s always great to be here on these conversations are so important, provocative, uh, and completely missing. And, uh, I I’m, I’m grateful, especially with this series on psycho-politics, to be part of it.
Robert Strock: (02:09)
Thanks. So, we talked about Community First! in the last episode, and it’s such a vision of society in a healthy way where we look at the bottom end of society, and we give them a chance to have opportunities to work. And in a sense, it’s a very great example of practicing psycho-politics, because what we’re doing is we’re, we’re doing something or they’re doing something that is going beyond themselves and actually applying the first principle, which is, oh, okay, I’m caring for my family, but I’m also caring for a larger community that really is homeless for five years on the average. And I’m using my money and my time and my energy to create this community. I can’t say for sure, but from what I know of Alan Graham, the founder of Community First!, he has a humility, and he has that kind of a mind where he’s shown us at the Global Bridge Foundation, endless support.
Speaker 2: (03:30)
We can take parts of his documentary and he’s going way beyond his own community. It’s not like he’s done his thing and he has proprietary interests. He wants to spread it around. And his vision is to do this all throughout the world for the homeless or all throughout the country, at least. And we’re talking about this being for all those that are poor and it being a way to get out of the rat race. The only reason why it seems that we haven’t had the vision of what real low-income housing is, is because we’re projecting out of our own ideas of an apartment building. So, as we’ve covered in various other episodes of it costing $550,000 a unit in California, we’re talking about $40,000 a unit and that’s utterly scalable if we change our priorities to include everyone. So, it’s pretty evident if we look closely that we are a world divided by ourselves, and we’ve heard that expression about being a house divided by ourselves.
Robert Strock: (04:43)
But when we see clearly that if we just take care of those that are dear to us that that probably creates something like half a billion groups and the groups are not linked. The large percentage, probably 98% of the groups are not linked to really being in a common purpose. And it’s a time where we’re being given all the warning signs that it’s now or very likely never. And that comes in the form of nations and religions. Not that we’re bad, not that religions are bad. It’s just that the “and,” the practical “and,” the reason why we’re great is because we’re most moving toward being inclusive of everyone’s equal, right? To have an opportunity to survive. And we’re moving toward creating a planet that can survive. And it may sound like this is being repeated a lot, but the question I’d ask you to ask yourself, how much are you thinking about this?
Robert Strock: (05:59)
Not to make you feel guilty, not to make you feel inadequate, but hopefully to touch a spot that says, “I want that I’d like that to be a part of my thought process.” And as we covered in the last episode, where a step away, if we have a computer to have Google be our friend and ask what organizations are around us, or looking at regenerative agriculture or ecosystem restoration or natural energy, or frankly, anyone that’s doing anything that touches our sweet spot or our area of skills, or if we’re really struggling with survival, realizing that in a way you deserve as much credit as anybody in the world, because there’s nothing harder than struggling for survival when you don’t have connections, but you really need to stay focused. We really need to stay focused when we’re in that situation, not to get lost in anger or withdrawal, or just cynicism.
As I hear you speak about Community First! in particular, and related to what’s going on in California as a, what people would call a real crisis, and aware now that so much money is being thrown at this. Uh, I think recently I heard the number of 12 billion, more being thrown at it. And so, it isn’t just a question. That’s such a huge number of resources. Uh, it, it doesn’t seem to me, it’s a question of fundamentally, uh, what, what are the causes? How, how does, uh, the system self-correct in a way that just doesn’t mean the politicians throw money at it? Uh, again, controlled by the vested interests that control the politicians. What do we do?
Robert Strock: (07:56)
Well, I’m glad you brought that up because it’s such a tangible part of what Global Bridge is doing right now. So, we have had contact with the governor’s counselor who’s in charge of homelessness for the state, and we’ve been in deep collaboration with them. And the $12 billion–he made us clear was really $7 billion. And they went to the state legislature who said, no, we want it to be $5 billion. So, it’s in a collaboration right now, but the difficulty is whether it’s $5 billion or $7 billion, part of the difficulty is that half the money has already been earmarked for buying hotels and motels and restructuring existing buildings to be as good as they can for the needs of the homeless. Now that’s a halfway better solution than where we were, and that’s probably going to end up costing about $300,000 a unit, but the difficulty is, it’s still not going to allow the land like Community First! has, where a sense of pride and community and esteem and gratitude and ability to work locally in a productive way is assured.
Robert Strock: (09:19)
So, there’s approximately two and a half billion dollars that looks likely that it could be available to do creative solutions. So part of it, Dave, is the vision of being practical and changing what the politicians think of as a home. So, a tiny home is a home, but it’s not legal with a bathroom and a kitchen at right now in existing state law. So, we are in dialogue asking for the governor to do what he can and the legislature to do what they can to change the definition of a house, and also to allow the zoning to be changed for homelessness in agricultural zoning, so that there can be a spaciousness where a deep sense of community can be there, where they can be everything from the regenerative farm or clean energy fields or any other kinds of manufacturing that would benefit the plant, where the people that are there are able to do something and have a work opportunity to contribute to the planet.
Robert Strock: (10:31)
And for those that are mentally ill, or for those that have addiction issues, we can set up communities that are just designed for them and save resources, both in the housing and also if they need a psychiatrist or psychiatrist, then that will be there in a very targeted way. If we’re dealing with people that are out of prisons and, and, or other people that have violent histories, then we have more security so that we can have a lot of different communities that can be very low cost. And in reality, after the first few years, regenerative agriculture becomes profitable. So, the communities, after a few years, will cost very little if anything. There’s even a chance they might become profitable. So, there are incredible solutions that Community First! is really the inspiring model for housing and caring, but it can be applied to all low-income people to give a chance for that to occur.
Robert Strock: (11:35)
A matter of fact there are people that are not low income that would rather just step out, live like a king, be with their friends, live in a community and just have fun. And there’s no reason why all the different kinds of enjoyments can’t gradually be built in to those communities as well. This also would give an enormous amount of jobs. We can have communities that are set up to help build the infrastructure. We can have communities set up in the forest or near the forest that are in vehicles that could get out quickly as, as ecosystem restoration does. It helps with reforestation all throughout California. So those are the kinds of conversations that we’re having with Global Bridge and the politicians. And yes, that is a sore spot. But if we keep our positive attitude, which we’re pretty successful at, I truly believe, especially if a large percentage of the people really get the possibilities and send letters, go to meetings, talk about it, talk about it with friends, that our culture can exist in a very pragmatic way, and we can rebuild parts of our society.
So, as you speak, and as you talk about these possibilities, and as you express your positivity, and in my mind’s eye, I’m seeing water drying up, but yet farmers who’ve had generational farms saying, what happens to me? I’m saying they have the money to then hire lobbyists that influence the people that represent them in the state capitals. And I mean, capital’s more than just California, but let’s talk about California here. Um, and it, it just seems to me structurally, the system is set up so that the poor are perpetuated. It is really hard. How do you stay positive?
Robert Strock: (13:46)
Well, it’s actually not very hard to stay positive because there are so many people that are doing positive things. And if you get into that niche, you see that there’s a 5%, 10% of people that are really smart, ingenious, and they’re, they’re going for it. And, and Gabe Brown for example, is, is a person in the United States, who’s in North Dakota, who is consulting for 23 million acres of regenerative agriculture. Where he’s gone to the traditional farms, and he said to them, which is the very opening of our series, which many of you have heard that if you don’t think that I can make your farm profitable within three years, no matter where you’re starting, as long as it’s not in the North Pole or the South Pole, on top of a mountain, I’ll I’ll, I’ll bet you, my farm against yours, that you can have my farm.
Robert Strock: (14:43)
And his farm is a famous 5,000 acre farm that is making a lot of money. And he’s someone that has made it clear. He’s old enough, he’s got what he needs. And it’s a joy for him to be doing that consulting. And of course, it’s not him, he has a soil academy with a bunch of people that are all throughout the country. And so, it’s not that hard to stay positive when your friends are those that are doing the work. It doesn’t mean that there’s not also a despair and hopelessness and helplessness and a feeling of futility, but it’s letting myself feel those feelings. And then saying, of course you feel those feelings and hanging out with them and then remembering, oh my God, I’m so happy. I know this these 40 people that are doing all of these good works, some of which we’ll get into in the next few episodes.
Robert Strock: (15:43)
So, it’s kind of seeing if you have money, redefining money in your own mind as a natural tool, not only for security, but also a tool for inspiration, for joy, for connectedness, for meaning, for purpose. Now that’s a mouthful. And again, the first place it’s probably going to hit is a place that feels guilty, because that’s not what you’ve done, but I’m asking you to really consider if you spend a moment or more than a moment, hopefully looking at the situations that exist in the world today, the threats that are going to come to your children and you aren’t in denial. See if there doesn’t start to become a, want, a desire, a yearning, a longing to want to contribute. And if it’s not there yet, see if the wisdom can see, gee, I know it would make sense, but my guts still want to protect me.
Robert Strock: (16:49)
And that’s the beginning of where you are. So, it’s starting from wherever you are, not putting it down, but having the courage to continue to do number three, principle number three, which is to ask questions, how can I balance the needs of those I love with the needs of the planet, our country, and the poor? And can we see that when we are really in that way. I was just talking about a level of self-centered that will be reinforcing others to compete with us, to struggle with us, to be angry with us. And that if we don’t just stay in our own sense of community, we’ll see that we’ve created another community or many communities that are alienated from us. And we’ve separated seeing those two, side by side. So that is a wonderful vision. As I’m speaking, I’m seeing my hands showing two hands where I have one community where we’re cool.
Robert Strock: (18:00)
We’re good. We’re having a good time. You know, we’re, we’re surfing, we’re, we’re, playing, we’re going to movies and then we’re struggling on this other hand, we’re struggling. We don’t know how we’re going to get our next meal. We’re going to a food bank, we’re in a long line, we don’t know where the food bank is, we’re in another country. And when we can see both of those at once, that is the beginning of wisdom. And then as that starts to happen, if we have the courage to keep that inside ourselves as an ongoing question of how do I stand balanced for me? And I don’t feel imposed upon, I feel like it’s an opportunity. It’s a gift in a certain way to be born at this time, because purpose was a vague thing. When I was young, you know, purpose throughout the years, might’ve been World War II fighting against Adolf Hitler.
Robert Strock: (18:55)
Yeah. That was an obvious purpose. But otherwise what is purpose, it’s taking care of the family, and that was fine for them. But now is now, so we’re being given this opportunity to find a sense of meaning and satisfaction and purpose, even if we’re not feeling good, especially if we can learn how to care for ourselves when we’re not feeling good and good on us, when we’re feeling human, we’re dealing with illness or illness of a friend or loss of a parent or loss of, of a peer, loss of a child, God forbid, but that too. And yet we’re still going for doing our best to take the small steps or the medium steps, depending on where we are to set up a world. That makes sense from right where we are from this place of endangerment.
And as you say, the world, as you say something beyond the United States, something beyond our borders and the amount of poverty that exists in the world that makes our poverty in America look like you’re living in a palace, uh, that the, the ghettos in some parts of the world with literally millions of people make our poverty look like wealth. Uh, I feel overwhelmed. I feel like where, where do I begin? Where, where are the best places? You know, given that this is a global situation, much more radical outside of our country
Robert Strock: (20:31)
Being overwhelmed is a natural state. Unfortunately, it’s so far, all too frequently where the individual stays fixated, and then exit stage right out, of overwhelm, back to ordinary life. So, the key is developing a caring attitude toward feeling overwhelmed and having the wisdom to say, it’s natural that you feel overwhelmed, but I want to contribute. I want to find a way to contribute. I want to get into the reality of what stage we’re in, in life, where the planet is, where I am, what my situation is, what my contacts are, how I parlay them, how wonderful it is that I can have inspiring conversation with friends, with family, obviously not all, but selectively with people who are on the verge or are beyond the verge. And I can seek out the people to try to get more close to the artery of those that are helping, because there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world, millions of people in the world that are helping and are dedicated to help.
Robert Strock: (21:43)
And so, the overwhelm, or the anger, or the helplessness, or the despair is something that’s natural to feel, but we need to learn that capacity, which really is what the book, Awareness That Heals, which can be found at awarenessthatheals.org is about, is facing the feelings that are really difficult and letting them catalyze us toward healing. And that implies what might be called international values or international qualities or international action or international thoughts where we’re thinking as a whole unit, rather than as a separate being. And that doesn’t mean we’re being completely transformed. It might mean that 3% of us is starting to think that way enough to have conversations. And so, these difficult feelings, whether it’s overwhelm or whether it’s a feeling of paralysis need to catalyze us to care for those feelings. And to see that the reason why we’re feeling overwhelmed is because we have a need to care.
Robert Strock: (22:56)
You wouldn’t be overwhelmed if you didn’t care, didn’t care at all, you wouldn’t even think about. So, the good news is when we have challenging feelings, it’s because we have an underlying need and we need to find that need, care for that need, and go for that need. And that really is, right in there with a first principle of psycho-politics, which is identifying the challenging situations, challenging feelings and not stopping there, but using that as a pivot or as a catalyst to find the values, the actions, the attitudes of thoughts that are really going to be able to create that benefit. So, we’re naturally led to the big question of how can we revamp our relationship to money, success, if we have it and care for both ourselves and others and be in balance. And when you think about that, ask yourself, does that actually create a little bit of enjoyment or does that create guilt or does that create failure?
Robert Strock: (24:03)
And no matter what feeling it creates, accept it, don’t zone out, stay with yourself, but then see if it leads you to despair or failure or guilt that you say to yourself, okay, that’s natural. It’s good that I feel these challenging feelings. It means I care. I’ve got to keep digging to find a way to pivot from these feelings toward being a contributor, a cooperator of the planet of, of people around us and not get grandiose, not get lost in what difference does one person make, but realize every person, every action, every smile matters enormously. And gradually when you start to enjoy the question, it will lead you to a place of maybe at first, a rapid mind, but maybe eventually, and I would say definitely eventually, if it’s long enough, it’ll lead you to a place of silence where you can breathe and go, ah, this is what I’ve been in this life for, to actually feel a greater sense of connectedness, a greater sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, of comradery.
Robert Strock: (25:24)
And I can, I get to keep asking this question my whole life, I don’t have to arrive. I don’t have to stay with these feelings of guilt. I also don’t have to get over these feelings of guilt. I need to just not let them run my life. So again, as I’ve said, this may sound at first like a philosophy or a guilt trip, but if you can see it as your early conditioning, try to take this personally and see it as it’s perfectly natural cause my parents modeled this dominant way. And so it’s perfectly natural that these are my feelings, a big important part of practicing, the three principles of psycho-politics or anything that’s parallel is recognizing that we’re going to have feelings that are going to be contrary to this and interpreting the contrariness as a good thing, as a sign that we care and following through enough with it to say, okay, I feel helpless because I want to be able to help. I feel hopeless because I want to hope, I feel powerless because I want to find a way to be powerful in a helpful way. And letting that catalyze you in a very personal, individual way, in your way to be a benefit in a way that you uniquely can be and to be utterly content with your own best efforts. Thank you very much.
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