Haves and Have Nots

Something cool has been going on in DC. All because of how damn hot it is.

People are banding together, the “haves” and the “have nots.” Rather, those who have power and those who have not.

Facebook is full of queries in both directions: “Does anybody need floor space?” “I can offer air conditioning and a wifi connection” and — alternately — “Who’s got a spare bed?” or “Can anyone handle a family of five for a couple of nights?”

And people are willingly bunking together, sharing freezer space, just making it work.

Yet the fact is that every single solitary day we all live with something far more dire and far more protracted than a temporary dichotomy between those with power and those without.  That’s the income disparity in our country.

So what if we just normally assumed that there was a big difference in “haves” and “have nots,” and that it is both our duty and our privilege to try to help address that disparity.

Between 1979 and 2007, income of households in the top 1 percent of earners grew 275% while the bottom quintile of households grew 18%. Those aren’t just numbers. They represent a vast chasm between “have” and “have not.”

As a privileged person, it has long pierced me to know that I live in a part of town where we almost all have extras of things that would be coveted possessions nearby. We throw away food that we buy just because we decide to go out to dinner instead – while kids are hungry a few short miles away.

It’s long bothered me that while raising children, I had the choice to stay home with them, while many mothers do not and want that choice.

Yet the cost usually feels too high, if I’m honest, to contemplate sharing what I have with someone who has not, in almost all dimensions of life, unless we’re in a very short-term, dramatic, emergency, temporary, limited situation – like a once-in-a-lifetime storm.

It just got me thinking, all this talk in DC about the happy-clappy confluence of those with a need and those with something to offer, and I needed to name publicly that as much as I love being able to offer help on a short-term basis, I’m glad that I’m not called on every day to help people out.

Or am I?

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