from the CAMBRIDGE CHRONICAL, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wednesday,
April 4, 2001
Answers lie in Aesthetic Realism by Carol Driscoll
Is there an answer to the agony of homelessness and racism? The solution I am proud to say was given at the recent conference sponsored by Harvard University's Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL).
Students from all across America heard for the first time, the definitive cause and solution to homelessness and racism as invited speakers, Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, presented what they learned from Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by America's foremost critic and educator, Eli Siegel.
On opening night (March 16) at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, there was a special presentation where Dale Laurin, architect; Barbara Buehler, New York City Planner; Ken Kimmelman, filmmaker; and Anthony Romeo, architect spoke on: "Aesthetic Realism Explains America's Housing Crisis: the Cause and the Solution!" And on Saturday at Harvard's Science Center in Cambridge, a workshop titled "Where Racism Begins in the Self of Everyone--and How It Can End!" was given by Dr. Arnold Perey, anthropologist; Dr. Jaime Torres, who is on the Advisory Board of the National Hispanic Medical Association; and Ken Kimmelman.
They presented what only Aesthetic Realism shows--and the meaning of this is huge: that the twin horrors of homelessness and racism have a cause in common! Both arise from the human inclination to have contempt, defined by Eli Siegel as the "lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it."
I have learned that contempt begins quietly in every self. In Boston, I was for workers' rights and joined striking telephone workers on a picket line. But I also felt I could patronize because my skin was white. I didn't know that the way I wanted to be superior and made the insides of other people less real than my own was contempt, and the chief reason I was against myself. Studying Aesthetic Realism, as I heard criticism that was exact and kind, and I learned to see people justly, with authentic respect and true feeling.
On a recent trip, my husband and I visited Charlestown, and witnessed for ourselves the anguish of people as neighborhoods are being gentrified, rents and housing costs soar. People are being forced out of neighborhoods they spent their whole lives in. According to a recent University of Massachusetts study, the number of homeless families increased by more than 100 percent between 1990 and 1997, and another study shows that the number of homeless children in Boston has tripled in the year 2000. At the COOL Conference, people heard the truth and they were tremendously stirred: the only reason homelessness exists is because we have a profit economy that is based on contempt--the same contempt that impels racism.
The speakers asked a question they learned from Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism: "Should a person make a profit from another's need for a home?" They showed definitively and with passionate factuality--the answer is unequivocally NO. Profiting from the needs of other people is barbarous, and completely unnecessary!
Part of this great presentation was the showing of Mr. Kimmelman's powerful, gripping public service film against homelessness and hunger: "What Does a Person Deserve?" based on a statement by Eli Siegel. I believe passionately that the nationwide study of Aesthetic Realism is the one means to eradicate racism and homelessness, and it moves me tremendously that this kind, powerful, truly revolutionary presentation took place in the city of my birth.
I encourage every reader to visit the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation website at: www.AestheticRealism.org or call (212) 777-4490.
Carol Driscoll, New York, NY
Reprinted from the HERALD NEWS, Wednesday, August 26, 1998, Passaic County, NJ
Rent, Under the Profit System, Is Inherently Unfair to Many Workers by Timothy Lynch, Special to the Herald News
Now that Passaic residents have heard ridiculous propaganda about landlords being in dire straits because of rent regulations, and now that the Mayor has wisely vetoed the City Council ordinance to end rent control, it's crucial to see what this matter is really about.
As a union official, I have represented thousands of people who live in New York and New Jersey and who work in some of the lowest paying industries -- from parking attendants to assembly workers -- and who struggle just to survive. For these and thousands of others to endure the terror of being unable to afford a place to live is horrible and completely immoral.
There's nothing more important for people to know than this: Eli Siegel, the great American poet, critic, and founder of Aesthetic Realism, explained that our current way of economics, the profit system, is a failure -- inefficient and cruel. He explained that this system, in which people are seen in terms of how much profit they provide for someone -- how little an employer can get away with paying them or how much a landlord can charge them for a roof over their heads -- arises from the ugliest thing in humanity: contempt, "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." And he showed that contempt is the causeof all injustice, from lying about someone to racism and war.
The following definition of rent, given by Mr. Siegel, while being (as he put it) "snappy," is also the most precise and beautiful I've ever heard: "Rent is what you get for letting the house, which labor made, or the land, which God made, be used by people who may need it more than you do." And a poem by Mr. Siegel about landlords, great in its verbal music and critical humor, cuts through the smoke and mirrors that abound and shows clearly the purpose behind the ongoing effort to decontrol rent. It is from his book of poems, Hail, American Development (New York: Definition Press, 1968):
No matter what landlords say or legislators do, the central matter that needs to be discussed is described by Ellen Reiss, Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, in the periodical The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known:Heaven for the Landlord; or, Forthwith Understands
"The fundamental question about housing...is: should a person make a profit from the need of another person to have a home, shelter, a place to live? Should our ability to have a home depend on whether we can provide a profit for somebody? Does Marissa, age 5, have the right to look from her bed at night at walls that are decently made, a floor that does not have rats running on it, a home she can feel is hers; does she have the right not to be thrown out onto the street, homeless and scared? Should anyone see Marissa's need for this home as a means for making money for himself -- as much money as possible?"The only way to have an economy that is just to every man, woman, and child, is for economics to be based on ethics, on the honest answering of this question asked by Eli Siegel: What does a person deserve by being alive? Timothy Lynch is the president of Teamsters Local 1205.
Reprinted from BLECKLEY COUNTY NEWS, Conchran and Bleckley County, Georgia, Wednesday, August 25, 1999
As a person who has worked in the field of architecture, including as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity building homes for low-income families, I hate it that hundreds of thousands of families in America are living without homes, and the numbers are growing. And according to the non-profit housing, education and research organization, Homes For the Homeless, there is this heartbreaking fact: the average homeless person is 9 years old! For any person, let alone a child, to be forced to make the back seat of a car his bed in a country with plentiful means to provide for every person's needs is barbaric and utterly unnecessary.
Living in New York City, I see every day people living on the street, stripped of their dignity--sleeping over subway gratings and in doorways, walking the streets wfth all their belongings in shopping carts and searching through garbage cans for food. I feel passionately that people must know what Eli Siegel, the great scholar and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism explained. Our economic system, he showed, is based on contempt and it is robbing people of what they deserve! Eli Siegel defined contempt as: "the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it."
Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, Ellen Reiss, shows with magnificent logic the brutality of the profit system as she writes in the international periodical, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known:
"For a few persons to own the means to produce things that all people need for their very lives; for people to be able to get what they and their children need only if they can pay whatever price will provide the profits someone desires, for many people to work grueling hours while the wealth they earn goes to an employer or stockholders who did not work for it--this is utter contempt. It is the only reason people are poor in this nation, including little children."The "working poor" are increasingly joining the homeless population because employers are paying salaries so meager that people can't afford even the most basic human necessities for themselves and tl-eir families. "The profit system as such," Eli Siegel passionately stated, "is against man. The beginning fallacy is: man was not made to be used by man for money.... It is a corruption, it is artifice."
Aesthetic Realism explains what can have economics fair to every man, women, and child. "Without good will," Mr. Siegel explained, "the toughest, most inconsiderate of activities--economics--cannot do so well." What is meant by good will, I'm so grateful to be learning, is honest looking at what justice to people really is. "The first thing in good will," Eli Siegel stated, "is to give a person his rights."
There must be a national study of good will, beginning with asking and answering this ethical question asked by Eli Siegel: "What does a person deserve by being a person?" Everyone has a right to a good-paying job, food, clothing, and a decent home. I want people in Cochran and Atlanta, as well as Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and every inch of rural America, to know the answer to poverty and homelessness is in the study of ethics as Aesthetic Realism teaches it.
Reprinted from the ROCK ISLAND ARGUS, Rock Island, Illinois, Friday, March 31, 2000
There is an answer to hunger battle in America
By Ruth Oron, Miriam Wciss, and Meryl Simon
This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published these "Facts About Hunger in America": "Eleven to 12 million Americans experience moderate to severe hunger. An additional 23 to 24 million people are 'food insecure,' i.e., either cut the si7e of their meals or skip meals. ...Some of the consequences of chronic hunger in children are infant mortality, poor cognitive development, and increased risk of disease."
As three representative women, we say it is appalling that infants are dying and growing children's minds and bodies cannot develop as they should in this, the richest na tion in the world. That a pprson in America of any age suffers from hunger, be it "moderate" (whatever that might mean!) or "severe," is a crime.
We respect persons working to al leviate hunger, but as reported in a New York Times article, even the massive, nationwide effort -- "40,000 soup kitchens and food pantries ... with more than 900.000 volunteers" -- cannot keep pace with the increasing need. Mean while, a basic right such as nourishment should come to people not out of charity, but because they are entitled to it as human beings.
Eli Siegel, the great American historian and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, has explained the cause of all injustice, including the fact that children are starving in America: it is contempt. He defined contempt as "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." Contempt, he showed, is at the basis of our economy where some few people profit from the labor of many. And in 1970, he explained this tremendous thing--that history had come to a point where the profit system had failed and would never recover. He stated: "Man has lived with economic ill will for hundreds of years; but that doesn't mean that ill will was ever right or, for that matter, efficient. The inefficiency of ill will in economics is now becoming apparent all over the world."
We see this in 1999, despite the lying reports about a "booming" economy. The fact is, a few people are getting richer while increasing numbers of people are getting poorer, forced to worry where their next meal will come from.
Aesthetic Realism is completely clear -- the one measure of the success of an economy is the well-being of every person. Stated Mr. Siegel: "While any child needs something he hasn't got, the profit system is a failure."
In the international journal, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, the class chairman of Aesthetic Realism, Ellen Reiss, describes magnificently what must be for the children of America to get what they need:
As corn is in a Kansas field in summer, with the sun hot on it; as Texas earth is rich with oil; as glowing oranges of California grow and people pick them with aching fingers and get so little for their labor--to whom should these belong? A little child in Harlem is going to bed hungry while somewhere in America there are cows ready, with milk that won't get to that child. And the child wants that milk and deserves it. That child is, with her fellow citizens, the rightful owner of that Kansas corn and Texas oil and those California oranges.We have learned from Miss Reiss that in order to keep the failed profit system going at all, so that the big money interests in America stay happy, most people have to become poorer, and this means more of our countrymen will go hungry. In order to keep profits coming in, corporations have forced people to work longer hours, laid off men and women in massive numbers and moved jobs abroad where labor is pven cheaper.
The only thing that will bring hunger to an end is for every government official and citizen to ask this ethical question stated by Mr. Siegel: "What does a person deserve by being alive?" This emergent question is at the center of the powerful public service film on homelessness and hunger titled "What Does a Person Deserve?" by filmmaker and Aesthetic Realism consultant Ken Kimmelman. The film premiered at the Washington, D.C. summit meeting of the National Coalition for the Homeless and is being aired on television stations around the country and abroad. It concludes with these kind and completely practical sentences by Mr. Siegel:
"The world should be owned by the people living in it....All persons should be seen as living in a world truly theirs." (Self and World. Definition Press, 1981).The Aesthetic Realism Foundation is a not-for-profit educational foundation located at 141 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012. (212) 777-4490; www.AestheticRealism.org
Reprinted f rom the SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL, Santa Cruz, CA, Sunday, June 18, 2000
A home should be an inalienable right
By Nancy Huntting
I just read "Middle-class buyers qualify for subsidies" (Sentinel, June 11) and also "Furious debate rages on sleeping in public" (The New York Times, May 28), which tells of Santa Cruz as well as other cities across the country having hundreds, sometimes thousands, of men. women, and children who don't have a place to sleep at night. More and more Americans-- despite massive falsity about this in the press and government--cannot afford rent. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that homelessness has doubled and even tripled in the past two decades. That people are homeless in the United States of America is a horror, an outrage, and I respect every person working to have this horror end.
The Sentinel article said "homelessness looms even for those with jobs," telling of a single parent of two children, working full time, who "the region's housing crisis has left ... homeless for four months." The Times article tells that in the safe-sleeping zones just voted on by the City Council "structures, tents, or other camping accessories like stoves would...be illegal. People would not be allowed within 300 feet of any home. And after three nights...would have to move to another spot at least 500 feet away." Every man, woman, and child who has no home, who may be forced to lay his or her head down on a sidewalk, and move desperately from place to place, is flesh and blood, has a mind, feelings, hopes and fears that are real; each has possibilities that are being stifled. And when you lose a job or work long hours and still can't make ends meet, you not only are not free, you are also in great danger. The Times article says, "recent studies showed that homeless people are 4 to 12 times more likely than housed people to be the victims of attacks."
Meanwhile, what these articles don't deal with is the reason why, in a land so wealthy, in an economy supposedly doing so well, there are thousands of people--many of them families with young children--without a basic necessity of life, a home!
I want your readers to know there is an answer. It was given by the American economist and critic Eli Siegel, the founder of the education Aesthetic Realism. He is the person who had the greatest knowledge of history and the greatest compassion for people. He said that any economy in which one child is hungry is a failure. He showed, beginning in 1970, that our economic system, in which a few owners and stockholders make profit from the labor and life needs of others, had irreparably failed, would never recover; the contempt for people at its basis had at last shown itself to be so inefficient it could no longer work. Siegel defined contempt as "the addition to self through the lessening of something else." And he also explained so importantly, "If people really cared that poverty not be, it wouldn't be. But once you can feel you're superior by thinking others are poorer than you are, it will be."
The idea that people can't have a decent place to live unless someone can make profit from them is immoral. Recently, I attended an event that should have been reported on the front pages of every major newspaper--a seminar titled "Housing: A Basic Right, An Urgent Need, an Architectural Priority" at the American Institute of Architects national convention in Philadelphia. It featured the powerful public service film against homelessness and hunger "What Does a Person Deserve?" by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Ken Kimmelman, based on this fundamental ethical question asked by Eli Siegel, "What does a person deserve by being alive?"
The honest answering of this question by everyone--every city council member, mayor and government official in every city in America--will end homelessness. That film ends with these words by Siegel: "The world should be owned by the people living in it. Every person should be seen as living in a world truly his. All persons should be seen as living in a world truly theirs."
Nancy Huntting is a writer and teacher at the nonprofit Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City: www.AestheticRealism.org.