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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Grandchildren and Hope

Our oldest daughter and her husband celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary this weekend with a trip "away." Good plan.

We stayed with their two children while they enjoyed some down time together.

No one could have made me understand just how wonderful grandchildren are before Gracie and then Wyatt arrived! They are amazing to me.

Unbounded curiosity in perpetual motion!

Instant laughter can erupt right behind tearful anguish, or vice versa.

Healthy, bright, energetic (whew! real energy. . .see above on perpetual motion, etc.), exploring, hungry, growing, impatient, loving, "hugs and kisses" no matter what!

That, and more, are my grandchildren.

Next spring our youngest daughter and her husband will bring us their first child, a little boy, our third grandchild.

Can't wait!

He will be completely different, as are Gracie and Wyatt, yet basically the same. Funny how that works, huh?

Whenever I get to be with these amazing, precious children, I think of the other children I see in Dallas every day.

Poor children from poor families.

Children and families just like ours. . .but without the advantage, the privilege.

My grandchildren want and will want for nothing.

They live in fine housing, enjoy the best of medical care, benefit from educational videos/toys/software (Gracie knows more about computers at 3 1/2 than I do at 55!), go to amazing pre-schools, have parents who have and take the time to read to them, get to go places far outside their neighborhood, see and know all kinds of people, just like their parents who all have university degrees and no college debt. . .the list of benefits and opportunities go on and on for them.

What my grandchildren have and will someday realize and appreciate, I feel certain, is exactly what every child in this city needs and deserves. Most will never receive such benefits.

It doesn't have to be this way. Really, it doesn't.

I realize we will never achieve universal equity in opportunity or benefit. But, we could do much, much better than is currently the case.

My grandchildren and their parents are very special people. At the same time, they deserve no more opportunity than all parents, children and grandchildren in my community.

Lots of people in Dallas begin the game far, far behind those who are out front simply by virtue of the accident of their birth and parentage. Those who start out so far back in the pack need special attention, benefit, attention and a lift up.

I know, I know many people will not agree with me. Accepting the popular mythology propping up the ideology of "rugged individualism" and the silly rhetoric of the "self-made man (and woman)," these folks champion a laissez faire approach to everything public.

These people are simply wrong.

Even worse, they are short-sighted, narrow and foolish.

Assisting those who begin far behind benefits everyone, including those who begin far ahead.

Who loses when the workforce is more educated and better skilled?

What group in Dallas suffers when our housing stock enjoys a net improvement?

Why would anyone oppose improving community health, reducing absences in our classrooms and extending extra-curricular activities to all of our children?

How does denying poor children in South Dallas full and expanding access to technology help my grandchildren?

How does opening economic markets in poorer neighborhoods hurt me, my economic status or my retirement plans?

When a community rallies in support of fairness and opportunity-creation for all of its people, especially those who are currently lagging behind and who are shut out, it is simply pursuing a rational, aggressive investment strategy based on faith in a common future.

Children are all about hope.

Hope can be realized only when people embrace a common vision that is fair-minded and expansive, rather than unjust and exclusive.

It is past time for us to do better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can't argue with the fact that it would make our community better. And yes, the arguments about the Amercian dream of lifting yourself up by your boot-straps are mostly ludicrous. For every Ross Perot who has lifted himself up to wealth from nothing, there are dozens of harder working people who live and die in poverty.

But, unfortunately, being right is not enough.

Being pro-justice and anti-disparity is not enough.

As long as money buys power, that power will be used to ensure that money cannot be taken away. The rich will never voluntarily accept higher taxes to support what you are talking about, even though it is right. The rich will continue to attend their churches to hear sermons about personal salvation, and think that their wealth and opulence has come as the result of hard work.

They will continue to justify their station in life by pointing at a handful of examples of people who suffer from what they see as an "entitlement mentality." They will refuse to see that same mentality at work in their own refusal to give of their enormous wealth.

Larry, I wish you strength. Beyond that, I wish you patience. It must be very frustrating to see the clients of CDM, and then to meet with the rich who fill our churches.

I love you.