Two Americas

By: Patti Bankson

John Edwards loves to talk about the “Two Americas”. And why not? Raised in the small town of Robbins, North Carolina, he is the son of a mill worker and shop owner. He graduated with honors from North Carolina State University and earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Although he may not have grown up rich, he has certainly overcome his “raisins”. And pretty much put them behind him, except in theory. And except on the campaign trail.

Good job, John. No, I mean that, sincerely. He’s to be applauded for understanding what the American Dream is all about and for achieving it (materially speaking, anyway) for himself and his family. And just being rich doesn’t mean he owes anyone anything. Except the IRS, maybe. But when it comes to remembering what it means to live on the other side of the street, I think not.

That’s pretty amazing when you consider how easy it would be for him to be reminded. Any time he wants to get a good look at the “other America” all he has to do is look out the front windows of his America – that would be his 30,000 sq foot “house” – at the people living in the barely habitable homes right across the street. He can see them every time he goes out into his front yard and he can see them every time he gets into his car to drive down his driveway. Assuming he spends some part of his life in the front yard and also assuming that he doesn’t wear a blindfold until he’s driven out of the neighborhood, they’d be virtually impossible to miss.

Regardless of his background and his bird’s-eye view, when it comes to understanding what it means to live on the other side of the street and when it comes to making a difference in his own neighborhood, I’m afraid I’d have to side with his neighbors who say he is totally clueless. I know it’s not his job to personally lift everyone out of poverty, nor is there a law that says he has to care. Really. I probably wouldn’t have expected anything like that from him, either… if he hadn’t brought up the subject himself. That’s the problem famous and often quoted people have… they keep forgetting this little “prayer”: “Lord, make my words sweet, because someday I may have to eat them”.

Whatever responsibility he may or may not carry when it comes to the poor, I think he would come across as a lot less hypocritical, and as genuinely caring about people who live at that level, if he at least acknowledged the ones living right under his nose.

If he really does care about those who live in poverty, if he really does want to help the poor, if he really does want to talk to those who have nothing, why go all the way to New Orleans when all he has to do is cross the street?

About The Author Patti Bankson:
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