If a visitor from another planet landed in the middle of our nation’s capital region – or any other region in the United States – to learn about our species and the values that guide our species, he would be pretty confused.
If that visitor stood right in the middle of the region and looked to his left, he would see home after home filled with one or two parents and two to three kids. The kids would be sleeping in beds, their clothes would be in dressers or closets, the cabinets in the homes would be filled with food and cleaning supplies, and the parents would be alternatingly talking about work or maybe having an argument about having too much stuff in their homes and how they can reduce their clutter.
If the visitor looked to his right, he would see also homes with one or two parents and two to three kids. However, looking right, he would also see that the neighborhoods had garbage strewn around them, the buildings were not well-maintained, and that the hallways leading into apartments inside these buildings smelled like a combination of urine and alcohol.
Once inside the apartments, the visitor would see children sleeping on floors, their clothes in plastic garbage bags, the closets filled with nothing but dust and mold. The cabinets, instead of having food and cleaning supplies like the ones in the homes to his left, would be filled with nothing but more dust and dirt.
The adults in these homes would be having arguments, as well, but not about clutter or having too much stuff. It would be the conditions in which they were living, the stress of having nothing, that led to arguments – and much worse – in all of these homes.
The visitor would look left, see people living one way, look back to the right, see people living in a completely different way, and it would be hard to process. He would have to leave, go back to his planet, and share all that he had just witnessed.
“That species, the human beings, they must not have any eyes. Or, if they have eyes, they must not have hearts, for they have so many people living with so much right next to so many people with so little. And the number of people with nothing seems to be growing faster than the number of people with something.”
It is time for those of us on this planet – and in this country – to look left and look right and say, “No more! No more will we tolerate so many people living with so few things that are so essential to a decent standard of living – a quality of life so many others of us have.”
Our calling today – right now – is to be the generation that says, “No more,” and acts on it. Our talk is cheap if we do not change, right away, the conditions that so many of our neighbors endure.
The summer is a dangerous time – very dangerous for many of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. It is also a time when we can show what is possible when our eyes and our hearts lead us to action that unifies what is to the left and what is to the right and makes this a region of which we can feel proud.