I must say that I am angry and often bitter, that although government and society acknowledges that poverty is all of our concern it does little or nothing to remedy the situation. Seeing that children grow up unafraid, go to bed with a full belly, get a proper education enabling them to do something productive in their lives is all of our problem. All poverty will touch the rich and the poor alike. The suffering that poverty brings will not stay in the ghettos, it will reach right into the suburbs and take your car, your television and your children. What do you think that home invasions are all about? They are not just some kids out for kicks. Contrary to popular belief these kids were not born bad, or kids from single parent homes, or products of alcoholic parents; I know because like I said in past posts I was one of them. I got plenty to eat, slept in a bed every night, but we were still poor and we were never allowed to forget it and the problem of poverty still exists today.
My family owned a ten room house and we were still poor. Not as poor as the poorest, but poor none the less. We always had our 3 meals a day and slept in a bed, but we wanted for things that others kids had and got without even appreciating them, like an ice cream cone on a hot day, a pair of boots that did not require us to put in a plastic bread bags in them to keep our feet dry, because the soles had holes in them from being worn by your brother the year before.
We longed to be able to afford to take a taxi, or a bus with all of the grocery bags instead of having to carry them 15 blocks home. We longed for a winter when we would not have to carry heating oil in an open pail 6 blocks slipping on the ice and snow-covered sidewalks, trying not to spill any of the oil that would be used to keep us warm; while your hands froze and your little arms ached so bad you thought they were going to fall off. The only apple I had every eaten back then was at free camp and I never ate an orange until I was 10 years old. Fruit was just too expensive.
We longed for a green bean that was straight and did not have the rotten pieces cut out. We longed for an ear of corn that did not have sugar worms to cut out before they could be eaten. You see we had a grocer who would call when the bushel of beans was going bad and offer them to our family for 50 cents a bushel and the same with the corn. Bless him, or we would never have been able to afford fresh vegetables. Being poor meant walking the train tracks looking for the occasional turnip, or carrot that fell from the train cars as they were being unloaded. If you were really lucky you would find coal to put in the stove.
We longed the most though for the feeling of not being a burden, but of being an asset, a cherished possession to somebody, no to anybody. You see we learnt quickly that no one really wanted us, we represented hardship to our parents, teachers thought us un teachable, so they did not bother most of the time and the law sought to round us up and put us in juvenile detention; out of sight and out on mind.
Most of us did not do well in school from my era and my neighborhood, and nobody cared until your daughters and your sons started to interact with us and bring us home. No one seemed to care until the middle class kids and the rich kids started to commit crimes like they were poor, just to be able to hang out with us. No one seemed to care until the middle class and rich girls started to end up hooking on the streets for their ghetto boyfriends and the middle class and rich boys and girls started getting hooked on drugs.
All of a sudden their was a drug crisis and an unacceptable drop out rate in the schools. Something just had to be done about prostitution and just where did these poor children come from that were corrupting the children of the wealthy and upper class? As the children of these upper classes started to drop out of school, get busted for drugs and prostitution society started to understand that being poor is catchy and it began to become obvious that as long as there are children going to bed hungry and abused, no one is safe, because it is in this environment that the juvenile delinquent, the gang banger, the drug dealer, the pimp, the prostitute, and the home invader, are created , but for all of its apparent obviousness very little has changed and it is not taken seriously by the government no matter which political party is in power.
It is not tougher laws and stiffer jail sentences that are required to fix the problems of todays youth and the trouble they cause as adults as all of our law makers seem to believe. I think, no I know that the first step is to see that all children get enough to eat and get to grow up safe from abuse. I know for I have in the past as a child and young man led many a parent’s child astray. There is just something about a poor kid doing bad things that seems to attract other children like bees to honey. Sometimes it is out of curiosity, a feeling of sympathy and sometimes they come over to us just to piss off their parents, but it did not matter to us poor kids then and it does not matter to the poor kids now, why they came, or still come; we will feed off of each others needs and in time you will not be able to tell the difference between us and your children.
There is only one way out and that is to save all of the children from suffering. If you think that this is a joke look at the statistics and look at your children. What music do they listen to? What clothing do they where? Who are they emulating? What causes are important to them? This is not about race, this is about how caring for the children with nothing and doing something about it may save your child from becoming a juvenile delinquent , or worse.
Just for the record and some food for thought; there is not one girl rich, or poor whose dream involves selling her body on the street to survive instead of getting married having a house and children; there is not one boy who did not dream of having a wife, children and a good job, instead of a life of crime. No child ever thought they would become an alcoholic, or a drug abuser, but yet this will become the reality for too many of our children if we do not do something about it.
All children dream bright cherry dreams until they are taught differently. Children do not know prejudice, or feel superior to others until they are taught to. We as a society can never wipe out rich, middle class, or even poor, but we have to see that everyone gets at the very least the basics of what it takes to live and the equal opportunity to do better for themselves and their loved ones.