Wanda and I had just made it through the traffic of Atlanta, Georgia, and decided to take the first motel past the metro area we could find on our return from the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborourgh, Tennessee. That next morning we wanted a real sit- down breakfast instead of what was offered at the motel. The town was small, and the only place we could find was a Truett Café attached to a Chick-Fil-A fast food chicken outlet. It was nice. We sat at a table next to a huge window looking out at the double line of cars driving up to the drive-through window.
As we waited for our order, we watched nice car after nice car drive slowly by or stop right next to us as they waited for the line to move. It was like a display line of every kind of new or close-to- new car or pickup made. I said, “Wow, not a beater to be seen.” Wanda explained that Chick-fil-A might be fast food, but it is not cheap food. At least not like McDonalds or Burger King.
That got me thinking. People with money, or let‘s say a better income, don‘t have to frequent the same places as poor people. Here in North Florida people with money will drive 30 miles or farther to grocery shop at a Publix supermarket “where shopping is a pleasure” rather than going to the local Winn Dixie or Food Giant where shopping is not a pleasure.
People in America have many, many choices of stores to shop at in our malls and big box stores. Not high-buck stores, but nice ones like Dillards or even Macy‘s, stores whose prices and locations make it hard for poor people to shop there. Poor people where I live have Fred‘s, Family Dollar, and Beals. People with money shop at boutique dress shops or have the means to drive however far they need to go to shop. Now with the internet, shoppers don‘t even have to go out in public and possibly mix with those who have a different level of income.
Now, I‘m not even talking about the very rich or the ultra- rich, but sometimes even those people are forced to mix with the masses, but even then they can stay separated. Every major college football or professional football and baseball stadiums have their exclusive high-buck, climate controlled enclosed seating that allows the rich to go to the game, but really not going to the game like the rest of us.
Airline travel? Coach, First Class, or Private Jet. Yes, we do have a class system in this country. If you have money, you can live life seldom seeing those who don‘t have money. If you have enough money you never ever have to see poor people, and I imagine after a while for the very rich, there are no poor people.
So why does this matter? Do the rich have to see the poor? Can‘t we just live our separate lives and go on about our business? Well, I guess we can, and we have for decades, but we forget one thing. Maybe the people with money can block out those who don‘t have money, but it doesn‘t work both ways. The poor, a segment of our population that is rapidly growing, see the rich every day of their lives. It is thrown in their faces every day on television, in movies, on bill boards, on every street and every moment of their lives. They see their children going to substandard schools, they see people driving by in beautiful cars, they look at the steaks in the grocery stores, and they are not even seeing the ultra-rich like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, the ultra rich live far away or in protected buildings or walled communities where the poor are not even allowed to look.
So, what happens when the poor population gets bigger and bigger? What happens when the poor realize that there really is no path to the “top”? Or even up a few rungs on the ladder? At what point does envy turn to hate?
When do the masses of poor people in America do what poor people have done throughout history? How long before we see revolution in this country. As the poor population grows we will reach a point of no longer saying “if the poor revolt”, but “when the poor revolt.”
I think we can see that the police are doing their best right now to keep the poor in their place, and the media is doing its best to keep the poor divided by race and locality, but as that poor population increases, and the white poor and black poor, and the brown and red poor realize that they are all in the same boat, the police and media will no longer be able to keep them separated.
Then as they say, the shit will hit the fan. Think of all the revolutions in history: Rome, France, Russia, China. The list goes on and on all over the world, and it is has been for thousands of years.
It is scary to think that this will happen here in America, but I see nothing happening that will make it less likely. No, it won‘t happen in my life time. The government will be able to beat down anything that starts for a long time, but as the population of those at the bottom keeps expanding, and those with money continue to ignore those with almost nothing, envy will change to hate.
Sad to say, I believe my grandsons and granddaughters will see horrible unrest and blood in the streets.
If you have a decent income or you are wealthy and want to see what living in poverty is like, giving some of your time volunteering at a food shelter will allow you to have a glimpse of what poverty is. You won‘t be able to understand it or understand how people living in poverty think or feel, but you might learn how to identify some of the people in that plight. What you find might just surprise you. Many of those people are no different than you and some are profoundly different.
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