The Last Straw

The problems around Berkeley intensify every day. We have an egregious amount of crime; the roads are filthy; and new tent cities emerge. With horrendous traffic, road rage is at an all-time high as enraged drivers take their frustrations out on each other.

So what is Berkeley doing about the unsafe and uncivil living conditions? Are they working on solutions to make the heavily pot-holed streets safe and clean?

No.

Instead, Berkeley officials are continuing to tackle the problems of the world. Sanctuary cities, proclamations against Washington, fervent pleas to protect illegals consume the politicos’ time. And then there this new hare brained scheme: ban straws from being sold in Berkeley.

Now I’m not sure what a straw ever did to attack and rob a lawful citizen, like the criminals around here do. And the needle-infested Peoples Park has injured more than a few people. I don’t understand what a lowly little straw has done to attract such negativity.

The straw ban follows a successful tax on soda products sold in Berkeley. Although most of the consumers of junk food are lower income people, somehow taxing Coke seems like a giant step for social justice.

But then again, this is Berkeley. This is the capital of the far Left, and when you look at the culture closely, you see that it’s not about care and concern — but about social control, nanny behavior, as in, “We know more about everything (whether straws, 7-up, immigration, or who- knows-what) than you do.”

Not surprisingly, the progressives are apoplectic about the election. They can’t control President Trump. They had a lot of power before, even with the Republicans, and cajoled them to push expensive and unneeded new taxes and policies. But when it comes to Trump: they are out of their league.

So they are reverting to Plan B: revolt, riots, revolution. If they can’t win at the polls, they will whip up fury from east to west, and pay anti-social types to attack and pillage. Playing nice, admitting defeat, and trying to get along just aren’t traits of the Left.

And in Berkeley, rather than get to work on the real problems that plague residents, politicians tax food products or ban plastic items, in this case, the simple, but very useful, straw. And given the complacency of the residents, I imagine that their efforts will be successful.

* *

Berkeley is not just a stressful place to live — it’s a sorrowful one. It’s a place where you see the inevitable consequences of communistic policies, “free love,” and all other kinds of rebellions against the natural order of things.

When you look around at the faces, most of them appear deadened. After feeling pummeled by life here, and giving up so many of the joys they could have had elsewhere, there is a hardness to people.

Here’s an example from just this week. I had gone to a dental appointment and I was leaving the building after the exam was over. A woman around 60 was coming out of another medical professional’s office. She was on crutches and was struggling to open the front door to exit.

I dashed over and said, brightly, “Can I get the door for you?” In the nastiest and loudest voice, she barked, “If I wanted help with the door, I would have asked.” I felt as though I had been slapped across the face; tears filled my eyes.

But rather than take this insult personally, in that moment, I did something else: I felt the sorrow and the pain that is Berkeley. It is a place where you put your life at risk — physically, emotionally — by offering another person simple kindness. It is an area where kindness is so rare that it evokes fear or rage.

But what is the effect of living in a place where it is dangerous to be kind. . and where a friendly comment or smile is viewed as a threat? What does that do to people’s souls?

Although I’ve had to deal with hostility like the above more times than I can count, I have not given up on simple kindness. My heart has not shrunk to a pea size; I would never yell at a random stranger offering me a hand when I obviously need one. In fact, when someone opens a door for me, especially a man, I go out of my way to offer praise and thanks.

To remain a decent person around here is an amazing feat. The fact that I can still smile at people and that I haven’t given up on kindness is a miracle — and it’s strictly God’s miracle, not my own. Because it takes God’s love and mercy to be able to offer a modicum of warmth to others in such a cold and dark place.

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