I took a nasty fall the other morning on the way to work. It was something as simple as my foot getting caught on a cobblestone. The next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground, my elbow and wrist hurting something fierce and my clean underwear exposed to the world. I was lucky, nothing was broken, my body (and ego) were just badly bruised and scraped. In a few more days, I should be fine.
That moment made me appreciate my life. Had I fallen just a little harder, I’d be in a cast right now, unable to type. That would have made my job exceptionally difficult and my writing habit untenable. A fall like that is how many people live life – right on the edge. A missed paycheck or an illness can result in massive consequences. I was reminded how fortunate I am to have a safe place to sleep; to have food in my fridge, gas in my car and a few dollars in the bank.
As a teen, I was a big Harry Chapin fan. I lived on Long Island and Harry was a native who sang stories and performed frequently in the area. He made me recognize the absurdity of the world’s richest nation having children going without food. As a result of Harry’s influence, I’ve spent years volunteering with hunger organizations, trying to effectuate change in policies and in people. I’ve learned a lot about the cycle of poverty and the difficulty of escaping the circumstances of your birth. My volunteering taught me a lot about privilege; there were far more opportunities available to me than to a child who lived in a car or a homeless shelter.
It breaks my heart to see children in soup kitchens. They deserve so much more – the same chances I had. But our system doesn’t allow for that. And as a result, the odds of them leading a life like mine are slim. We continue to perpetuate a society of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ The ability to move from the ‘have not’ category to the ‘have’ are few, while it’s a lot easier to slide from ‘have’ to ‘have not.’
I wish I had answers, but all I have are questions and concerns. I’m thankful I didn’t sustain a more challenging injury that could have sent me down that slippery slope towards ‘have not’ land. I just wish we could stop demonizing poverty.
Changing our society starts by changing a single life – one by one. Imagine the change that could occur if we each committed to helping someone else.
As we move into the Thanksgiving season, I’m committed to doing something positive. Next week, I’m working on a Habitat for Humanity build, helping someone take a big step forward. I hope to take some other steps before the year ends, as I need to give back. How about you?
All the best,