meanwhile in america

a comfortable place. a window or deck with some kind of view. three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths. healthy, well-fed children. no oppression due to race, religion, sexual preference or gender. a dog and a cat. reliable cars. gas in their tanks. a well-stocked fridge. a jam-packed pantry. a cupboard full of random booze. college degrees. no student debt. white-collar jobs. working from home. paid sick leave. vacation too. health insurance. childcare. broadband. cable t.v. laptops. iPads. cell phones. 401Ks. assets. equities. legacies. futures. write-offs. loopholes. quiet streets. decent schools. grocery stores galore. parks. camps. zoos. weekends away in nice hotel rooms. coats for every occasion. a dozen shoes. a household without chronic illness. neighbors with similar beliefs and views. pandora. amazon. netflix. hulu.

meanwhile in america.

three generations living under one roof. dissolving wallpaper. bed bugs. mildew. crummy plumbing. bad landlord. hungry tummies. refrigerator blues. bare cupboards. convenience-store food. thankless work if there's work at all. starvation wages. long days. no sick leave or paid vacation. no employee healthcare. soup kitchen queues. no childcare. cash-strapped. unpaid bills. no broadband. dilapidated schools. four people sleeping in one room. one coat for all weather. worn-out shoes. chronic illness in the family. acute, too. rationing medication. eviction looms. an innocent relative in prison. another deported. a loved one dying alone in the hospital from covid.

i hear on the radio a man named eric liu:

rugged individualism never got a barn raised, never got a field cleared, never got a schoolhouse built. the only good things that have happened have happened because people came together in a way where they took responsibility for each other.

a comfortable place: neglect in understanding—listening to, advocating for (in the streets and at the ballot booth), charity, bearing witness to and lessening—the suffering of others. complacency, selfishness, cynicism and ignorance can so obscure what's true.

Matt Eich/Alexia Foundation

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