Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sometimes it's just hard, that's all

There are days when the juxtaposition of rich and poor, with shrinking numbers of folks in the middle, is just too much for me to bear.

When, in one week, I read of three new high-end bikes being produced in Portland and the cheapest one retails for $5,000, and the majority of responders to the online articles wonder what the problem is; and in this same week I ride past someone sleeping in a doorway with his shitty Magna mountain bike chained to the gas meter a few feet away (and I stop and leave my half-eaten sandwich for him because maybe he hasn't eaten in awhile and when he wakes up he might be hungry -- but really, how much good will a half a peanut butter sandwich be if he's still hungry for a few days after?); and then tonight I note the odd sense of semi-relief that comes when I deposit my check at the bank (because I can pay my bills this month), it sometimes becomes way too much.

I cannot simply shrug and say that there will always be poor people among us, like so many do.
That is unacceptable to me, as unacceptable as the wars our government fights. Poverty and war are flip sides of the same coin: They exist because, on some level, someone could not get rich without someone else ending poor or dead. War and poverty have reduced human relations on this planet to some sick quid-pro-quo equation that I cannot just rationalize away in order to forget about it. I am never successful at forgetting for very long, and during weeks like this one, remembering can sometimes be my undoing.


Mr. Fusion Jazz said...

Sometimes it is damn hard. All I can offer is that there are others of us who have the same thoughts. Thank you.

Gene in Tacoma

steve said...

It is so difficult to change much by yourself, but some good things can be done. Bike donation programs have been helping people. Donating to causes that help those in real poverty - and spending some of your own time - can make a difference. Maybe not as much as we all would like, but a bit. It sometimes frustrates me looking at the Northern European countries where poverty is rare.

And there are other people who you can get by a hump. A family I know lost a job and decided to ditch one of their two cars and minimize driving. A few of us helped them out with bike gear. The money they got from selling one car and then the money saved from lower insurance, gas and maintenance helped them get past their rough spot. They still only have one car and are doing much better now

Finally there are some good companies. A friend of mine doesn't have a lot of money, but she is far too tall for regular bikes. She spends time with kids helping them to be healthier - riding bikes and gardening in home and community gardens - and Trek recognized her and made a one-off bike that fits her perfectly -- the first bike she's had that fits and is comfortable to ride. They didn't charge her and there is no way she could ever have afforded a custom frame.

If we all did good deeds and shared we could dramatically improve the world. Most of us never will - but that doesn't mean some of us shouldn't try