Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

by James Glaser
August 5, 2011
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As I was heading home I noticed the sign on the bank was showing over 100 degrees. I stopped off at Subway and got a Veggie Delite, and a large unsweet ice tea with lots of ice. It might be only a few miles to the house, but in this kind of heat it is always prudent to have something cold to drink. Who knows, you might get a flat, and it wouldn't take long to work up a thirst.

As I walked out of the restaurant, I noticed two guys sitting in the shade of the building. They had packs and long sleeve shirts on. I figured they were homeless, and they are not an unusual sight here in the South. Really, there were no obvious homeless people up in Northern Minnesota, mostly because they would freeze to death in the winter. Down here in North Florida, you can live pretty comfortably for eight months a year, but you do have to make it through the summer heat.

I don't know what these two guys' story was, but they did each have a big cup of ice, and they actually looked comfortable sitting there. I can't handle the heat, but people raised in the South seem to tolerate it just fine. I don't know how.

Wanda, a native Floridian, and I work together out in the yard. In no time at all, my shirt will be drenched with sweat, but if you look closely at her, you might see where her arms glisten from a bit of perspiration. It doesn't seem fair to me.

The thought of those homeless guys stuck with me. Here we are the richest country on the globe, at least that is what Washington claims, and we can't seem to take care of our own. Sure, the two guys I saw were by themselves, and if that is how they chose to live, that is OK with me. Who knows, they might have had problems that were not visible that keep them from working, I don't know.

Two single guys out on the street are one thing, but we have families out on the street or living in their cars. Right here in North Florida there are camps out in the woods where groups of people live. Back in the depression they called them Hobo Camps, and I think we are heading back to that kind of living for more and more of our people.

Do you ever hear any politician talk about this problem? Now remember we are the Christian Country. Of course today that is more or less in name only. I think it would be more honest to say we are the Warrior Nation, but I digress.

Yesterday the stock market went down over 500 points, but to most Americans that doesn't mean much. I bet by now the millions who are out of work, are also out of the stock market. I guess first you lose your job, then any savings you may have, then you start selling what ever you can, and then you have to humble yourself and start asking for help from relatives and friends. At some point it is the streets, and when you get down that low, getting back to where you were seems impossible.

You know, it is hard to believe, but we have millions of Americans on the streets or rapidly headed that way. It is one thing for an adult to hit the skids like that, but can you even imagine how that screws up your mind if you have children or an elderly parent, or both.

There are a lot of desperate people in this country, and they look at Washington and see that our politicians are as screwed up as the people out on the streets. Our politicians are not thinking right, and for sure not one of them is thinking like a Christian.

Did you know, right now they are out on vacation? They did a little overtime on the debt ceiling/budget mess, and I guess it exhausted them, so they all decided they had earned some time off with pay.

Well, it is exhausting out on the streets, too. No AC, no indoor plumbing, no hot or cold showers, and no laundry or cooking facilities, and you can only keep what you can carry. Like I said, millions of Americans are living like that or think they will be soon.

So, I thank God that I still have a roof over my head, and life is good. It could be that way for every American if Washington wanted to stop our wars and cut our defense spending. We have the money, and unlike other countries, we have enough room for every citizen to have their own space. But we do have our priorities, don't we.

We have to make the choice as a nation. Do we really think of our fellow citizens as brothers and sisters in need, or has America become a country of the have and have-nots?

Those two guys sitting in the shade with no place to live pretty well answers that question.

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