So Much Wealth To Go Around
Why are an estimated 650 million people still living on less than 2.15 U.S. dollars a day ?
Saturday mornings are times of reflection for me. I routinely travel from my home state of Connecticut, one of the most affluent states in the US, a state which ranks #3 or #8 depending on which source you consult, to the Bronx, the poorest of the New York City boroughs. Every week I get to experience the juxtaposition of wealthier worlds, and the world of those who struggle. I am fortunate to include myself in that economic slice that we in America label as the middle class, and I lead, more or less, a normal life, within my means. I drive average car, not my dream car, that classic blue Maserati that I have dreamed about since my teenage years. As a dweller of the middle class I have also started to feel the impact of the slowly changing and deteriorating standards of living in the US and power of middle class wages. Therefore, more than ever, I pay significant attention to family finances, and plan for the future.
Recently, as I experienced the urban reality of the Bronx, I was struck by the images of street beggars, approaching cars at crowded, polluted intersections. I keep a small stash of quarters, and a few singles which I usually pull from to give a small hand out. When I lower my window to donate, I tend to strike a conversation these less fortunate brothers, usually an aging, limping individual holding a old cane or crutch, often a black person. I find it important to remind them jokingly to “stay out of trouble”, to drop their bad smoking habit. I am not afraid if my hand touches theirs. Indeed, I am curious to see what their hands look like. They are usually, dirty, dry , cracked, weathered like lost items exposed to the elements. When I leave the intersection, I say a small prayer in my head while I reaching out for a wooden rosary hanging from car mirror.
I ask was also struck by the many poor souls that I see pushing immense grocery cart, stacked with bags of cans, glass and plastic bottles, on their way to a nearby supermarket redemption center. I thought, how long did it take to fill that cart? How many dirty, garbage bins did he need to examine in the hopes of retrieving a few cans? What’s the total value of that urban bounty ? Twenty dollars, or the…