Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poverty's ugly side

Last Monday, the day we "enjoyed" one of the largest crowds of people seeking assistance in our history as an organization, I witnessed a stark example of what I would call poverty's very ugly side.

In mid-afternoon, as I walked across the street to my car, I noticed a young mother, an older woman and a very young boy preparing to get into their car to leave.

The hot, Texas sun was doing its work to make us all miserable.

The little boy was frightened by a very small, stray dog that was following him. He was crying and generally distracted by what he perceived to be danger. With most dogs in our neighborhood, his fear would have been justified. This particular mutt seemed friendly enough to the adult eye.

He continued to cry and protest as his mother tried to get him, the older lady and her arm load of groceries into their old, beat up car.

In the heat of the moment I watched this young mother yank him by the arm and vault him roughly into the back seat.

I heard her yell at him, "Get in there and shut up!"

The older woman seemed passive to everything. The young mom was clearly irate.

Just a moment in our city.

Poverty is ugly. And yes, I know that affluent parents act in the same way with their children. My point here has to do with this one event in this little boy's life.

I know about being frustrated with children. I know about losing my temper. I know about apologizing to my children for my mistakes. I know all about how hard it is to be a parent and how imperfect I was and am as a dad and grandfather.

But, that little boy in the back seat. . .I can't get him out of my mind. He needs more and better.

Poverty provides people so little margin for error. It delivers life in pressure-cooker heat. So much piles up. So much is simply frustrated reaction. So much is lost when there is so little available in the first place.

Poverty has a very ugly side.

That little boy knows I'm right.



Jerry said...

Dear Larry,

Great article! I hope it will assist me to be more sensitive to my family.

Also, I read your earlier artilce, "Amazing Grace," and was so impressed with the video that I sent it to everyone I know.

Keep up the great work!

Your old friend,

Jerry Cook

Anonymous said...

Not only does poverty have an ugly side, it IS the ugly side.

Poverty makes people hate their lives and hate themselves.

Poverty makes an overcast day seem like night, and night seem like death.

Poverty suffocates everyone. And no one is left untouched.

SeriousSummer said...

Poverty may help bring out the ugly a little more often, but I'd really say that is the ugly side of being human.

The best any of us can hope for is to be ugly a little less often.

Such is the human condition.

Frank Bellizzi said...

"so little margin for error"

I've never been poor. But that phrase captures what I see. It really is different for people who are constantly at the end of their rope. How would I handle that? Not very well.