Monday, April 08, 2013

Hunger in America

Everyday I hear the radio announcements—"I'm your neighbor, I'm in the Boy Scouts with you, I play little league with you, -- and I'm hungry."  Today I read the Fox News article about “Papa Joe” Bradford, whose story inspired the film “Unconditional.”  I do not doubt the sincerity of “Papa Joe” and others like him across the land.  I don't doubt that there are some hungry folks in America, but I'm telling you that every home I've been in...Projects, single-family homes, whatever has "stuff."  Most are packed full of stuff. 

In 1957 my family moved from Mississippi to Texas so that my Dad could work without being gone for weeks at a time across the country driving a truck.  He had come home from one such trip only to have my baby sister cry when he tried to hold her, because she didn’t know him.  That event so broke my Dad’s heart that he purposed to find something so he could be at home, and consequently we moved to the then sleepy little town of Lewisville, Texas.

That first year was a real challenge.  The company for which he worked went out on strike shortly after our move, and we had no money, no job, and no real prospects.  We lost our car; my Dad hitchhiked and begged rides into Dallas where he continually sought work without success.  He sold everything in the house, which wasn’t tied down, just to pay the utilities, rent, and keep food on the table.  Eventually, he landed a good job with Allied Aviation, fueling aircraft at Love Field, and our fortunes improved dramatically.

My sisters were too young to understand the difficulties our parents faced, and I barely did.  I do remember wearing badly worn and patched clothing to school where it seemed, to me, everyone was rich except us.  The harshness of that first year was driven home when Mr. & Mrs. Sam Porter, in-laws of a cousin who lived there, brought gifts to us at Christmas.  Though we didn’t fully understand the situation, it was obvious our Mom and Dad were completely overcome by the generosity of those fine folks.

My point in all this is that we had nothing left.  Today’s hungry have stuff--beer, cigarettes, snuff, TV, radio, bicycles, cars, computers--stuff.   Each time I interview someone at the “Helping Hands Food Pantry” operated by our Kemper County Baptist Association, I ask about his or her job search.  I go into their homes and find enough stuff to feed them for months. 

Tom Brokaw rightly called them the “Greatest Generation,” those who were my parent’s generation.  Defeating Germany and Japan were not the only things they accomplished.  My Dad’s generation didn’t seek food stamps, or government subsidy, they were adventurous and struck out for Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and states in between in search of a better life for their families.  In the process they built the strongest economy the world had ever seen.

My eighty-seven year old Mother lives on less than $1,000.00 per month.  My eighty-nine year old Mother-in-law brings in less than my Mother, yet neither receive food stamps, or anything other than Social Security and Medicare.  They do not expect, nor do they desire, the government take responsibility for them.  They’ve learned to live comfortably on what they have.  Of course, both were married to men who were not afraid to take a chance, married, by the way, being an important word to both.  My Mother-in-law was widowed in 1964; one day after the youngest of seven children was born.  She raised them, worked in the cotton mill, farmed, and took them to church.  My Mother was widowed in 1974.  Her youngest was twenty, and she worked in the cotton mill until retirement.  Both simply trusted God and took what life threw at them, and went on living out God’s plan for their lives.

The greatest boom in America is taking place in the North Dakota, but few are willing to leave the comfort of home, and the familiar, to even attempt to build a future in such a harsh and challenging environment. Few, indeed, are today’s hungry who are willing to move in order to find work.  They’d rather stay in their little corner of the world, and subsist on the largess of others than to strike out seeking to improve their lot. 

The day will soon come, I fear, when real hunger becomes a reality in America.  The inbred generational dependency so prevalent in today’s world, coupled with the almost complete breakdown of moral constraints and utter rejection of absolute truth is incapable of anything less than anarchy.  Homes and close-knit communities will become armed camps akin to feudal kingdoms protecting against marauding bands of lawless anarchists.  Central governments will become even more corrupt as their henchmen purchase power through dispensing goods and property obtained by confiscatory taxes levied on the backs of hard working citizens.

Yes, I believe there are hungry people in America, and my heart breaks for the children who have been taught that their hope is in supporting a government which will provide a better life for them through programs designed to make them little more that slaves.  We do them no favor by perpetuating the myth that the world owes them a living.  Let us help them, by buying a bus ticket and providing housing for a month while they settle in a new environment with greater opportunity.

Again,  I believe there are hungry people in America, but a much greater need is to learn once again the self-reliance so eloquently lived out by those whose lives ought be an example to this “dependent” generation.

©                       2013                 Mike Rasberry

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