This morning at dawn, I stepped outside for a run. I heard the mourning dove cooing, felt the breeze across my skin, noticed the quiet stillness of my neighborhood. I thought, “It’s Independence Day! How fortunate I am to live in a peaceful country!” Many people around the world are fearful that a bomb will drop on their homes that day. Political upheaval destroys businesses and prevents people from providing from their families. And yes, there are children starving in India. Really.
As my hardworking heart pumped blood throughout my body and into my head, it occurred to me that not everyone in my own country feels peaceful, lives in a quiet neighborhood, or even has the luxury to notice birds and breezes. There are children starving in America, too. I felt uncomfortable to realize that my status as a white, heterosexual individual gives me certain comforts and rights not accessible to others of my fellow Americans. This makes me sad. And I don’t know how to handle this problem on my own. Recognizing that it is a problem is not enough.
I do know there is an ever increasing disparity among income in the United States. For practical information and numbers about this, see Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times. There are fewer and fewer jobs available to young men and women who, for whatever reason choose not to or cannot afford to go to college. Jobs that would allow them to marry, purchase a home and raise a family. Where is our middle class going?
I am not a political scientist. I am not well versed in political argument. I know what I feel and what I notice. And today, as much as I love my country, I notice that politicians polarize and preen. They criticize and grandstand, instead of really taking a hard look at the poor, hungry and downtrodden people in our own backyards. Isn’t that the message this country sent out so many years ago, when the Statue of Liberty was erected? Send us these people, and we will take care of them, provide them opportunity. What are we going to do about it now?
Sadness and despair are part of the ebb and flow of life. We greet it, we sit with the discomfort and usually, it recedes and normal life resumes. If you are having difficulty managing sadness and/or despair, give me a call. I can walk you gently through this difficult time. Melanie Somerville, LPC • 512-593-0583