Monday, February 16, 2009

Despondency is a luxury of the rich

Or rather, despondency that leads to inaction is a luxury the poor can't afford. What brought this on was some photo essays from Life magazine. We picked up a discounted copy of their seventieth anniversary edition, and I spent hours absorbing the photographs. Two images are imprinted forever. The first is of a girl lugging twenty-four loaves of bread to the public ovens (page 58). This bread will feed her family for a week.

The second is a twelve year old boy feeding his baby sister beans and rice, and later lying exhausted on his mat (page 65). He feeds the family while his parents work, and suffers from bronchial asthma and malnutrition. He says, "I am not afraid of death. But what will they do after?"

It is horrifying in our modern society to see such stark examples of poverty and child labor; of life reduced to it's fundamentals. Our world is at a crossroads, facing the consequences of our excess. It may very well be that our children and grandchildren will have to work harder and make do with less. They may never experience the luxuries we take for granted. Will it get so hard as these two examples? I don't think so.

Can we afford to lay down?

Only if we have excess. At our most fundamental, we must get up from our mat and determine a better day. Every day.