Namaste to Everyone This July 4th


At the end of yoga classes often people say namaste (pronounced \NAH-muh-stay\). The word comes from Sanskrit, an ancient literary language of Hinduism.

Literally it means “I bow to you.” Some yoga teachers believe that there is a divine spark within each of us and as we bow to one another we’re saying, “my soul recognizes your soul.”

The “divine in you” interpretation comes from the Hindu belief that divinity resides within everyone, so any person you encounter deserves respect.

Why do I wish namaste rather than Happy 4th of July?

The Fourth of July celebrates the fight that regular citizens made to obtain Independence. And it is a fight that is ongoing.

Now, many of us are cowed by public officials – thinking they must know more or are wiser.

Or, if we question those people, they are quick to call a name or make us feel stupid for asking a question.

For example, this editor queried the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority on the statistics they use in determining the race and ages of the homeless – and then printing it with certainty.

I was told “With respect to demographics, USC’s demographic survey process, which Professor Henwood described during the press conference Friday, is the source of the Count’s demographic information. Their trained teams collect a representative sample of surveys from people experiencing homelessness in each SPA, and the responses to those surveys are used to determine the demographic Count’s estimates. That team publishes a fairly extensive report on their methodology each year, which includes the survey itself. Their 2024 report should be coming out soon, but there were no major changes to the basic processes this year compared to last.”

In other words, our experts are right, and you just don’t understand the document.

The report said about 5,913 homeless were surveyed (out of a population of 75,913). That’s about 8 percent of the homeless – and there was a disclaimer that they only surveyed people who agreed to be surveyed.

That probably means the mentally ill and those addicted to drugs lying on the street didn’t complete a survey.

As Tim Campbell, a Westchester resident, who looks at homeless budget numbers, wrote to me in an email “trying to guess someone’s ethnicity by how they ‘look’ is useless.  So that depends on how random the random surveys are. The whole interview structure is skewed.  Remember the UCSF/Benioff survey from last year?  It ‘proved’ homelessness was a housing issue and not one rooted in substance abuse or mental illness. It relied heavily on surveys as evidence.

“As others have pointed out, you’re not going to interview someone so crazy he’s dangerous or you can’t get a straight answer, nor someone passed out from fentanyl.”

Many of us back down when we’re told that we should listen to experts or we don’t understand the methodology.

We think we aren’t smart enough to question those in charge – and we shut up.

On this Fourth of July, I say to you “namaste.” I bow to the common sense and the inner smart I see in you. I think your questions are not dumb and you need to keep questioning. Politicians work for you and should respond to you – and not in a disparaging way.

Stand out. It is easy to follow along, but let your inner self, calmly and courageously make a difference. I know you can, I can see it in you. It is freedoms we are fighting for, not unlike the fight of those who founded this country.


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