A 2009 CHALLENGE-ARMS REACH
I participate in several forums online; last night on one of my favourites a fellow poster took exception to my suggestion that we start working on next Christmas by filling a shoebox or two a month for a child in our own town first instead of one in another country. Her response included the "I've travelled in other countries and seen the poverty there is far worse than here" line that truly angered and dismayed me. Follows my reply.
"Yes, I've lived outside the US also.
Among other countries I've lived in, I lived in Guatemala during the last years of the civil war and was horrified at the poverty there-it existed openly amidst great wealth in the hands of an increasingly small and ever more powerful upper class. I also witnessed the beginning of the end of the middle class there and was equally horrified to see the same begin in the US when I returned in late '96.
I have seen neighbours here in the American South quietly die of untreated dental, heart, and other disease due to lack of health care-people who had 50K+ salaries and good insurance until they were downsized at an age that made them almost unhirable; I've seen neighbours make their life savings last and last until finally the money ran out and their utilities were cut off and they died of hypothermia-right here in America.
I've seen mothers prostituting themselves to feed their children and to keep a roof over their heads-yes, right here in America-after a bad divorce left them with nothing.
I've seen parents abandon their children because they could not feed clothe or house them after losing jobs that paid barely enough to bare minimum care for their families but not enough to put so much as a dollar aside because that dollar went for day old bakery bread so the stomach would be fooled into thinking it was momentarily filled.
I've seen neighbours kill themselves after their retirement fund was 'devalued' and they found out their supposed home equity was gone now that their property value dropped to a quarter of what they paid while their taxes stayed the same or were even raised.
Having lived on the Gulf Coast, I've seen people who worked hard every day of their life lose everything including family members in savage storms that came back again and again-some of those people are still in tents or FEMA trailers.
I've seen, with my own eyes, Third-World conditions right here in the USA since my return from Central America, and those little pockets of despair are growing-right here in the US.
As a contributor to OXFAM and Doctors Without Borders, I thank-you for your contributions to global need; as a fellow world traveller and an American I ask you to look around your country and your town and see if you can do more within arms reach to prevent the horrors we've seen elsewhere from happening here.
I don't know how many people read this blog, until now it hasn't been important to me except that the hope has always floated that one day my son would post a comment and I would know that perhaps he doesn't hate me anymore.
But now I care, very much, and I am asking that if you have for some reason chanced upon this blog, or you are a regular reader (comment poster or not:), that you would join me in this challenge for 2009.
ARMS REACH can change the world one person at a time-your world, my world, everyone's world.
Reach out only as far as your arms can reach to touch one person and you will have touched the entire world. In a time of once unimaginable evil ("Santa Massacre Leaves 10 Dead" Fox News; "Sex Slavery and Child Exploitation Thriving In America" MSNBC; "2nd Playground Beating Child Dies" CNN) we still have the choice if our arms reach will be for positive or negative.
Anonymously adopt a school child-supply the rest of this years school supplies and decent clothing; pay for a high schooler to participate in a sport or arts activity-schools have to charge for that now and many teens have been priced out of the very thing that could have a profound impact on their life direction.
Figure out a way to have a profoundly positive impact on your community and post it here so that your idea can be shared, can be spread to other communities. Crochet or sew for babies, sick kids, healthy kids with no grannies; teach a child to make things; find someone in the grocery whose cart is filled with the bargain foods and whose face is pinched with worry-drop an envelope with twenty (or ten, or five) dollars inside and with the instruction to "Pay it forward someday" printed on the front into the cart when they aren't looking.
I believe in this country. I believe our citizens can save the world. I believe that salvation begins within arms reach.
"Save only one life and you will have saved the world."
Join me. Let's do this thing!