We start out as beginners at everything. The only things babies know is how to breathe, eat, cry, and mess themselves. Everything else is learned behavior. We don’t care about the color of our president or the size of our house. All we want is to be fed and cuddled. I like to write happy stories, but I need to rant because good people aren’t speaking up to rhetoric in the media and in politics, and I’m hearing otherwise intelligent people repeating shocking things. Specifically, I had a disagreement with a friend. Now obviously, I’m going to tell you I was right. It’s my blog, so I get to be Grand Poobah of this virtual world and it’s important to speak against evil, no matter if the evil comes from the voice of a friend.
The topic was school lunches. I think schools should provide healthy lunches for poor kids. My pal thinks that there shouldn’t be any school food at all. Parents should pack lunches, and be punished for bad food choices. (She also thinks parents should be punished if they don’t supervise their children through 6 hours of homework every night.) She asserts feeding children is not the tax payers’ problem because their poverty is the fault of the parents. If parents can’t feed their kids then put the parents in jail and take away the kids. Problem solved.
Some people living comfortable lives don’t feel responsible for the less fortunate. They want to keep all their “hard earned” money, and too bad for everyone else. Take away the social safety nets for anybody unwilling to work as hard as they think they have worked. It’s easier to blame poor people for their problems instead of looking at the decades of political decisions that have led to the miserable lives of people who don’t know how to change their situations.
I want to live in a kind society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Many people think that’s what we’ve got, but how many of them have spent time in the inner city or a trailer park? Sure, every now and then someone rises from the dregs of society and succeeds, but what about the vast majority of kids who never get the chance? Their schools suck, their teenaged parents never got an education to help with homework, Dad is in jail, Mom works 2 jobs, and the kids are so hungry they can’t concentrate on classes. That’s a reality. Not everyone comes from a “good” family. How can anyone look at a hungry child and say “I don’t want to feed you”?
When I was in college, I worked for the Columbus Tenants Union. I went to poverty-stricken neighborhoods and tried to get people to cough up $20 for membership with promises that by banding together, they could change their living situations. I sat on a woman’s couch looking through the car-sized hole in the brick wall of her living room and watched children playing on overfilled dumpsters with rats. The woman had already lived through an Ohio winter with that depressing view. The woman was disabled and on public assistance. What could I tell that woman? What could I tell the children playing in the dumpster? Can my friend understand their reality?
There but by the grace of God, go I. Or my friend. She just doesn’t recognize it. She credits her parents for a good example and herself for working hard without factoring in that she’s attractive, intelligent, and went to good schools. She never had to deal with a hole in her wall with no way to fix it. Is it fair for my friend to say too bad you didn’t choose better parents?
I don’t know how to teach people empathy, but I certainly know Jesus-loving people need shamed into behaving more Jesus-like. What would Jesus do? He’d feed hungry children!! If our society has gotten to a point where it’s socially acceptable to say “let children starve”, we deserve to fail. If good people allow others to make statements like that, we deserve to fail too. Children are more important than what’s in your bank account, and it’s more than school lunches. It’s also important to have social workers to protect children and seniors from abuse, good teachers in schools, and a lot of other programs that the Republicans are trying to cut while the wealthiest segment of the population gets wealthier. Of course it’s important to cut waste in spending, but let’s use sense and stop hurting the most vulnerable people!
Each time a new child enters our lives, we have a new opportunity to see life through their eyes. Kids have an innate sense of right and wrong. We need to go back to the beginning and learn better lessons. Most of all, the “Silent Majority” needs to find our voices and speak up!