1.30.2009

Look upon the face


I stood in the museum and looked long and hard upon the face of Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.” My photography instructor Ed Wheeler taught me the beauty of black-and-white photos, and Lange’s picture taught me about poverty.

The last few days I’ve read and heard an awful lot about the pros and cons of The Stimulus Package. About a million words later, it all comes down to this.

In both a public relations and journalism capacity I have rubbed elbows and shot the breeze with many politicians in social settings. I know how they are wined and dined. I know the bourbon is good and the food is better. These elected or appointed leaders move in a world of wealth – of $1,000-a-plate dinners and picked-up tabs.

Perhaps this country, in this financial crisis, would be better served if they drove their limos into the slums of our cities and down rural roads, stepped out of their privileged world and looked upon the face of poverty.

8 comments:

Falzone for America said...

It's hard to find words to describe the growing lack of personal integrity amongst the wealthy. I cannot imagine that they don't know or can't imagine what it would be like to live in squalor and in the pervasive fear that things could get even worse.

I was raised with some marginal privilege but I can see all too well the dingy world of poverty where your surroundings have grime impregnated into the surfaces from many decades of use and wear. Merely having enough potatoes or rice to eat is not assured and takes a struggle. Clutching many layers of cloths around your neck fails to stave off the shivers. If a medical condition should enter the picture all hell would break loose.

How on Gods earth these politicians, bankers, CEO's, Pharma Company’s, Doctors, and Lawyers can band together to actively bolster their over stuffed profits and ego's at the expense of their poor and struggling neighbors is something I am incapable of understanding.

Religion says that to those entrusted with great power also comes great responsibility. They will pay dearly for not using their power wisely.

Personally I feel the Government should seize the assets of Wall Street CEO’s who took multi billion dollar bonuses and require the Bank to return the money to the treasury until they re-organize their upper level management, fire the CEO’s and sign a contract to utilize the government funds to benefit the consumer.

Frodo with nothing much to add said...

Frodo knows a man of good heart who truthfully believed that there was no longer any poverty in America. Then came Katrina.

We are who we have become. Isolated, insular, attached by an I-Pod to sounds that never are, but will always be.

bja said...

I'm so tired of watching all the commotion of executive bonuses, jet planes, billions for things most of us will never see. I just want to be able to go to the grocery store and buy what we NEED as opposed to what we would like to have. We are about to choose betweeen cable and cell phone as to which to let go. Our only entertainment is TV. With 4-5 round trips to Omaha for dialysis each week, need the cell phone on the road in the NE winter! The politicians should try to live on disability for a few months. I'll not complain about the $ amount, as I don't know where we would be without it!

Tiny said...

Perhaps it would be better if some of the homeless took up squatter's rights in some of the big mansions our tax dollars paid for. Plus the limos and jet planes would be a better place to lay their heads than what millions of them have now.

Hopefully our citizens will file a class action suit against the big corporation CEOs and Wall Street Crooks and retrieve the big bucks stolen from the tax payers.

As the old axiom goes: There's more than one way to skin a cat.

B.J. said...

A reader sent along this article:

Women leaders disappointed: “Responding to President Obama's request, House Democrats cut a provision from the stimulus package that would expand contraceptive family planning for Medicaid patients - usually poor women and girls.”

Poor Women Are Not ‘Pork’

Debra said...

Hear! Hear! I couldn't agree more. Their spending is a travesty. The waste of it all and people are starving and homeless.
I love you,
Deb

athena said...

BJ,

I loved this short and sweet blog about poverty and those ever so terrific high on the hog politicians. They have no clue.....it's sad and true. Some do...like Obama. Many might even care less even if they were to witness the suffering of others. Something happened to their humanity along the way. Who knows?

At the school where I teach world history there are lots of hispanic and black kids. 400 out of 600 of them receive free school lunches, and that's the only meal they get a day. Whereas the public school 20 minutes away where my fortunate son gets to go is awash in money. Can't it be redistributed?

The kids at the school where I work are often smart and try hard. Everyone has to act tough and buy flash jeans and sneakers to impress. They are so jacked up from their stressful home lives that the studious ones barely get instruction because the teachers have to discipline in chaos. What's going to happen to my students when they grow up?

Thanks for keeping me in the loop BJ!

Athena

B.J. said...

Thanks for sharing, everyone. Athena, none of what you write is new to me. My first husband was, in order, a football coach, elementary principal, high school principal, then college registrar. My second husbnad taught elementary school music for 10 years. I know about the poor kids.

When I was a young mother and for 12 years when we lived in a small Mississippi town, our Sunday School class worked through the welfare department to minister to impoverished families. I saw poverty in rural Mississippi NO ONE would believe - whites and blacks.

Occasionally, one student breaks loose from the rut and excels. A woman who taught business courses at the high school where my first husband was principal took one girl under her wing, helped her get aid and scholarships and helped pay for her college education. That girl then helped her brothers and sisters. Just a few years earlier, the first husband, as principal, would go out to their house in the country to try to get all the kids to come to school. The mother, sitting on the porch with a baby on her lap and a toddler at her knee, said, “Mr. Frazier, that school bus comes down the road, and they take off like Lindbergh.”

So help me this one is true: one night he started getting calls from parents that a teacher had used the “s” word in his biology class. He called the teacher, who explained, “If I used ‘feces,’ they wouldn’t know what I was talking about.”

What you are doing is very important. You do not know which student will break free. Nor do you know which one will mention you to someone 20 years down the road as "this teacher I used to have said ..."

BJ