The News Tribune logo

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Squirrelman's salvation

(Hear the lilting melody "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be...")

Gil Scott Heron said, "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something." It is with that thought in mind that I salute man's humanity to man. Yes, that's a switch; more often we hear of man's inhumanity to man.

In the past couple of days the plight of a self-sufficient man trying to make his way in the urban jungle has been the focus of newscasts and radio talk shows in Seattle and the Northwest.

Read more of the details here:

David Csak has built an elaborate treehouse under a freeway overpass and has lived among the tree's branches with the aplomb and adroitness of a squirrel. Down on his luck, divorced, having bad credit and having lost his home, he pieced together a rugged, treetop palace with a million-dollar view in the heart of Seattle. Csak has been dubbed "Squirrelman."

The City of Seattle served him with eviction papers. Today the city has extended the deadline for Csak to move out of the tree.

In the meantime, neighbors whose hearts have been touched by his plight have not stood around wringing their hands and sighing, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" Instead, they decided that they are somebody. And they did something. Something magnanimous. Something magnificent. Something so simple: they responded to the tugging of their heartstrings, to that 'still small voice' ("There but for fortune, go you or I...") so they searched craigslist for a motorhome that they could purchase for Csak, who didn't want to be forced to move to a homeless shelter.

The Good Samaritan neighbors contacted the seller of the motorhome and agreed to pay $500.00 for it so they could present it as a gift, a solution to "Squirrelman's" dilemma. But when all was said and done, their expression of faith and goodwill so inspired the owner of the motorhome that he gave it to them for free. Well, almost. He sold the old motorhome for 1-penny.

Now Csak has not only a reprieve, but a new home and the start of a new life. And it all came to be, because two young people decided that they would light a candle, that they were somebody, that they could do something. That's all it took.

Think on these things...

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." --Martin Niemoeller


VW said...

In some ways, I have some empathy for Mr. Csak. I too went through a rough time. My wife ran off with another man and I lost everything in the divorce. I lost my home and my children were all of a sudden 750 miles away. I was bankrupt and my credit was in the toilet. In the next few months, my beloved ex-father-in-law was brutally murdered and my mother died from a stroke. I was buried by Child Support. I eventually wound up owing the IRS over 15,000 dollars because of unpaid back taxes, interest and penalties.

But I didn't have the option to go live in a tree. I had to go on. I had children that needed support and love. I lived on less in a month than some people make in a week. I lived in rathole apartments with drug dealers, gangsters and prostitutes surrounding me. One night, outside my bedroom window, in the alley, a man was murdered in a drug deal gone bad. I worked a lot of low paying jobs.

I never gave up even when I could have. Finally, bit by bit, I got out of that. As my kids grew up, I paid less and less in Support. The IRS got paid back. Slowly I was able to get my life back together and even get remarried. I know have a decent job and a much happier life

I'm sorry, but even though I can identify with Mr. Csak's problems, at some point you need to take the bull by the horns and get on with your life. No one ever said it would be always be easy or comfortable.

I'm happy that folks are helping him, but he needs to take that help now and do something with it and move on.


Stephanie Frieze said...

I, too, was briefly homeless when I took my children and ran away from my ex-husband and his parents. It was emotionally wearing to have to live among strangers, most with substance addictions they were battling, but I was grateful to find a roof for my children that kept us together and worked hard to get us out of our situation. It would seem to me that anyone with enough wherewithall to build a tree house ought to be able to find employment. No job is beneath anyone.

As the economy continues to worsen I believe we will see more and more homeless people living wherever they can because frequently housing costs are beyond minimum wage jobs. Of course there will always be those who prefer to be homeless, but some folks just need a little hand up and this fellow may be one of them. I agree with VW, that teaching a man to fish is more likely to give him a lifetime of plenty than just handing him the fish. In the final analysis, I believe that we are on this earth to care for each other and as long as we remember that and give some portion to our fellow man we cannot help but make the world a better place to live in.

I have a beloved cousin who has lost his home, wife, and both of his parents in less than a year. He isn’t whining or asking for more than a listening ear. He’s grateful for what he has and philosophical enough to practice gratitude for even the day’s smallest blessing. We cannot go back and rewrite the past, but we can choose to write a new ending.

JosephMcG said...

Thanks vw, Stephanie, and EmPr for focusing on this... I applaud each one of you for your sensitivity, courage, and compassion.