Thinking about the Haves and Have-Nots

A trip to a high-end grocery store prompts a woman to contemplate how we treat those who are less fortunate.

by Margaret Kramer • Member { View Profile }

The revolution will not be televised. Interestingly enough, that seems to be true in the case of the protestors on Wall Street, though someone did share photos of the protest on Facebook. What makes it onto the evening news is a selective process. Last night I was noticing how many people on Facebook were posting things of a political nature with references to the right wing, unemployment, tax breaks for the rich. So, I wrote a comment: “Let’s take it to the streets.” We are overly ripe for that. Enough of this class warfare hyperbole. It is dividing us as a people.

I had time before work yesterday so I spent an hour at Whole Foods. I actually don’t get stuff in there much, but I wanted to experience the culture of the place. In the morning, it is nice and quiet. Everything is so luscious and tempting. I love the skin and bath items. I would be happy to have a sample of each product and two weeks in which to use it. Now I am contradicting what I said in the first paragraph, but it is the yin to the yang. Anyway, I found the most expensive hair-styling product I could that had a tester and used a bunch. Feeling smug about that. I had a nice oatmeal breakfast loaded with all the goodies, and then bought some raspberries and olives (on sale). Of course, these are essential items. It was still more than I thought. I cannot relate to people who fill their grocery carts with Whole Foods stuff on a regular basis. What reality are they in.

Everyone on that end of town (a big company's Fisher Price playland) looks hip, casually so, important and brimming with marketing and creativity. I can’t compete. No people of color here — except the occasional. Everyone is young too. Then I go back to my end (government offices, shelters, courthouse) and half the people look and are mentally ill and\or homeless. There are a large number are people of color and most are male. The other half of the people are city employees and service providers; social workers, health workers, attorneys, police, small business owners. There is a semi-permanent encampment of homeless people under the highway. It is pretty inventive what they’ve done. There are mattresses, blankets and pillows, bags, a large clock, and even a mirror hanging on the chain-link fence behind them. Some mornings as I drive on to the entrance ramp of the highway, a few are up, combing their hair, chatting with their neighbors — some semblance of a home. Then once every few days the city comes and shovels it all away and washes it down with some toxic soap mixture. I do wonder what the heck we (me, I guess) are really doing for the people who are homeless. I certainly see it getting worse.

I used to be such an activist, so did everyone else I knew. Is it dormant, buried in middle-aged responsibilities, are we too tired, is the world too fractured to organize, or are we ill equipped to use modern technology to our advantage? I don’t know anyone who isn’t having a hard time one way or another. There is nothing that says we are all entitled to a life of stability and upward mobility, but when everyone — especially the poor — are being shaken down and there are some people (corporations) who are escaping and even profiting at this time. And there are two wars going on. It is time to get moving and act as a community, ensure that the most challenged among us are treated as we all want to be treated.

I went to have some Whole Foods raspberries last night, and my 13-year-old son had eaten the entire box while watching TV.

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