Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How much does "great" cost?

We live in a great country. We have freedoms that can’t be fully appreciated until you fully understand the lives of those that don’t have the same liberties. Most of us, especially the young, don’t understand. Even our lowest income families live comfortably when compared to what is the norm for many third world countries. Why do we continually fail to understand that there is a cost to this greatness?

Again, for what seems too many times over the past few years, I find myself watching news coverage of yet another heart rending disaster. Moore, Oklahoma has been hit by a massive tornado and the destruction and loss of life is staggering. I tear up as I hear about a teacher who covered of six of her students with her own body. Later in the broadcast, I stare at her in awe was she is interviewed.  She is not camera savvy and she keeps pivoting away. I mentally tell her to face the camera so I can see her beautiful face. As she scans the front of the Moore City Hall with her back to the camera, she explains that she was hoping to see some of “her kids”.  If your kid was one that she squished beneath her, how much would that be worth to you? Would you give up a Disney vacation to cover the cost of having that caliber of teacher?
Gene Blevins - Reuters
First responders and rescue workers are evident in every shot, from every angle. Their faces are impassive yet intent. They exude competence despite what they are surrounded by. But wait – if they are there, so quickly on the scene, does that not mean that they too live nearby?  Do they know if their families are safe? Do they too, no longer have homes? The coverage cuts to local news and a story about local town announces that it will have no choice but to significantly cut the budgets of the police and fire departments.  Really?  I can’t recall the name of the town but I can bet there are at least one or two multi-million dollar homes. It’s Connecticut.

I understand budgets and the need for them. I can prioritize, re-allocate and conserve really well. It may be a happy accident that I can demonstrate daily, that if my kids want to do or buy something, they will have to sacrifice something else. It’s a pretty simple concept at its core. Nationally, it gets a little trickier but isn’t it the same premise? Granted, I do have a “don’t feed the neighborhood” policy but that is mostly to thwart a gang of adolescent boys from mindlessly eating their way through whatever is at eye level. (It happens.) This policy is more about waste than conservation. 

Our wealthiest citizens live in a country that has facilitated the garnering of that wealth. They had the freedom to do that. How can they, many a staunch conservative among them, look at what has befallen a modest suburb and then look away to attend to their own fiscal needs?  If the excessive liberties of the wealthy few continue to reign supreme, maybe we are not, as a whole, as great as we think we are.

So yes – let’s do something for the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Don’t post pictures of a pile of teddy bears being sent to kids who don’t have roofs over their heads. Don’t rally us to send school supplies to schools that don’t exist anymore. Don’t ask me to knit mittens. Why do I need to “like” a Facebook page in order for that company to send a contribution? Let’s give them what they need. At this point it will probably be cold hard cash (via relief organizations set up to handle just this sort of need) to obtain fresh water and food, to replace destroyed clothing, to buy flippin’ toothbrushes…to help them rebuild.That will force most of us to forfeit something personally. Do it. I am all for “sweat equity” but do this if you can and do it quietly, without accolades. Make only your kids aware what you do and make them part of it. Use it to teach them about civic awareness, how to vote their conscience later in life and to be thankful that we have the liberties to do so. Let it be the best freedom we have. 

1 comment:

  1. Right on Barbi. I agree. Thanks for this great piece.
    Love you.