Last night I was laying in bed listening to the fireworks being shot off somewhere near to us and I started to think about how I used to get a wiggly feeling in my stomach on the Fourth of July. When the stars and stripes were played, or the National Anthem, I would feel so proud. But, last night I wasn't feeling so proud of this country that I live in. And that makes me sad. Am I grateful that I live in a free country? Of course. Do I take it for granted? Yes, I do. But you see, I am one of the lucky ones.
We live in if not the wealthiest country in the world, one of the most wealthiest countries. But that is really a misnomer. Because for all the wealth of the United States of America, there are only a few who are significantly wealthy. The rest of us are either just getting by or out and out poor. And that my friends, is just plain sad. In a wealthy country such as ours, no one, child, adult, elderly should go to bed hungry. Or not have a home to live in, with safe, running water, heat in the winter and electricity. Do you think for a minute that those that hold the most wealth think about the poor, who have nothing, not even their most basic needs met? I don't think so. I don't really know what they think about, except maybe how they can hide their assest's so that they don't have to pay taxes on them.
We are fighting a war in a country we have no business being in. Every day innocent men, women and children are getting killed in a war that makes no sense to me. I am sure if you are reading this, then we are like minded in a lot of ways. If not, there really isn't much you can do to convince me that there is sense to this war. I cannot even begin to imagine the terror that the Iraq people feel to hear the bombs falling all around them. Wondering if they go out to get a loaf of bread, if they will come home alive. It's not something that most of us have ever had to worry about. Yet, if you think about it, in our inner cities, war is being raged in a whole other way. Wars of poverty reign high with kids thinking the only way they might be able to belong and be safe is to join a gang. Gangs are the new family. They have your back, but at what sacrifice? Turf wars, drug wars, everyday I get up and go to war, wars. This is what our young people have convinced themselves they need to do to survive. Sell some drugs, make some money, survive.
There has to be another way. This way isn't working. Kids are dying. It's not OK.
I remember having a conversation once with my Grandfather. Now, you have to remember, he's 82 so he grew up during the depression. He was poor. But, he got a job and worked hard. He pushed his family into working class and he lives comfortably now. He has no conception of the privilege he had by being young, white and male. He will tell you today that all you need to do is work hard. We have gone around and around about white male privledge. He doesn't get it. I don't know that I get it all the way either. But, I do know from working in social work (and I don't mean just sitting behind the desk) but getting out into the southwest side and really seeing poverty and the long term effects that it has on a person. How color really does make a difference in the opportunities presented to a person. How sex makes a difference in what occupations are presented as viable options.
How money makes the world go round.
If there is one thing that I do know, it's that we can't go on this way. Things have to change. We have to challenge ourselves to think broader, and in ways that might make us feel uncomfortable. Are you up for the challenge?