Monday, November 8, 2010

Hunger in America

The Phila. Inquirer recently ran another in an occasional series about hunger. It turns out, this one Congressional District in Phila. is probably the poorest in the entire country. The statistics are staggering. Welfare and food stamps often do not cover the necessary expenses of rent, utilities, etc., and food for a family. By the third week of the month, people, including children, are struggling just to have something to stave off starvation. Food pantries offer some help, but they only have so many resources. Their supplies are down while demand had dramatically risen.

So what should we think, what should we do? It's so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and think someone is at fault for not working. However, in this economy, if you're without a job for any reason (say, a layoff) it's not easy to find another job - not with unemployment around 9.6%. A person or family may not be able to just pack up and move to another area to try to find work. And what about the children? It's not their fault, and many parents the Inquirer has written about try to see that their children eat first, and they eat if there's something left. Making sure children get proper nutrition is critical for their long-term development. School lunch and breakfast programs are crucial, and more should be done for them.

What should we do? First, I guess we should NEVER take our food for granted and should be thankful for it. Second, we can support local food banks, food pantries and related programs. Third, we also should work to see the government strengthen the safety net and patch some of those holes that are in it.

Aren't we taught to care for our neighbors? It just seems somewhat out of whack to me that we have those struggling just to survive and others having such luxurious lives. While it's unrealistic and impossible to eliminate all economic disparity, we should at least see that the most vulnerable among us get enough food to thrive and that the children get a good start. It's the right thing to do.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, John Adams

It's the time of year to wish a "Happy Birthday" to our Second President. I hope you won't mind, Mr. President, if I mention you're a hale and hearty 275!!! And you're not forgotten. Gov. Jesse Ventura mentioned you in his chat the other week.

I often wonder what John Adams would think of our country today. What would he make of our current political climate? What would he make of the current world situation? What would he think of our economy?

It's impossible to know, of course, but an interesting exercise nonetheless. By asking ourselves what he and other Founding Fathers - and Mothers - would do, it challenges us to look for solutions. They faced incredible challenges. What can we learn from them to apply to our present day?

One thing I think we might learn from is their pragmatism. Not perfect, certainly, but they were able to compromise and get some big steps taken. Admittedly, there were more problems later (i. e., the Civil War), but at least they ignited the fire. Today, we have such name calling (I get so sick of seeing Liberal used as a smear term) and polarization , it's hard to get ANYTHING positive accomplished. The ads are so negative (although not a totally new concept, I think now it's worse than ever) I wonder if there are ANY decent candidates around!

So if there is something I wish we'd learn from Mr. Adams and Co., it would be to really come together and work for the good of the country and "We, the People".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Visitor

This week, in conjunction with some activities at college, I had the opportunity to view the film, The Visitor. It was quite a good film - well, up until the ending anyway. If you haven't seen this movie, there's a synopsis here The acting was excellent, especially Richard Jenkins as our protagonist Walter. And if nothing else, was a definite reminder I really need to write to Lois! So if you're reading this Ms. A., here's a shout out and a note that I definitely haven't forgotten you and WILL write.

Probably my first reaction to the film was that anyone who agreed with the Arizona immigration law needed to see this film. That was further reinforced by an article I read at the Common Dreams site (see my links section). Here's a link to the specific article. In the film the issue of center conditions is more muted, but it should be of concern to us. No matter one's opinion on illegal or undocumented persons, they are human beings and should be treated humanely. It would also be good to see a better system of due process for them. Then there's the matter of what happens to those who are deported. At the very least, they probably aren't returning to some cushy lifestyle. And moreover, real dangers may await them. These things should concern us and the film definitely gets one to ponder the issues.

Still, I really didn't like the ending of the film. Boo, hiss!!! I don't feel that a good ending would have robbed the film of its thought-provoking nature. If we could feel relief that Tarek be allowed to stay, would that mean we couldn't feel for those who in real life are facing a similar crisis? How about this, director McCarthy - give us a sequel! Have Walter get a new lawyer for Tarek or get the Congressperson involved. Or have him go to Syria and bring back Tarek and Mouna. After all, this is FICTION, so why leave us with a downer? The way I see it, a bit of hope might just do us some good.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who Would Sign the Declaratiuon of Independence Today?

Some thoughts...
At our college, Education majors sometimes put up sample bulletin boards as class assignments. In my opinion, the best one (at least so far!) was one put up last year and themed on the Declaration of Independence. There was a section of the board where people were invited to sign. I did, as did at least one of my colleagues.

This may not be an uncommon thought, but who would sign such a document today? Indeed, the signers did take a tremendous risk in doing so. But today, with the poisonous political climate and intolerant dialog about about certain religions, I thought about this again.

Would you sign the Declaration of Independence, knowing it said "all men are created equal?" Remember all means all - not just ones like you or like "us." Would you sign knowing that this equality would extend to those who worship differently from you? Would you sign knowing that this equality would extend to those of different ethnic backgrounds from yours? Would you sign knowing this equality would extend those of different sexual orientation from yours? And what about us women? Would you sign if it specifically said "all men and women are created equal?"

The President just reminded us this is "one nation." Will we see that all are treated equally under the law? That was the vision, even though the Founding Fathers fell short on really putting it into practice. That was the fight and struggle through the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. That was the dream of Rev. Dr. King and so many others. It's still an unrealized dream for some Americans. So who would sign the Declaration of Independence today? Would you?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Say What?

I couldn't believe that Congress would not pass an extension of unemployment benefits for those out of work more than 6 months. How heartless is that?

Maybe the infamous members of Congress who voted 'no' should be sentenced to live on unemployment benefits for the remainder of their terms. I wonder if any of them could make it on those benefits? I hope people also remember who they are on election day.

I know that we're in a tough economy, but we should do better than always cutting funds and services for the most vulnerable.