Many things in life require more tenacity than most humans want to conjure, from sunup to sundown, day in and day out.
Recently, I read about a group of youths growing up in the ghetto. Suddenly, many things that were bothering me in my own life were put in to total perspective. I’ve lived a charmed life.
These kids struggled with such things as finding a clean place to lie their heads down for a decent sleep.
They battled rat infestations, cockroaches, ants and bugs they could not even identify. They sometimes fought those rodents and bugs for a meal.
Any food – even garbage – was up for grabs, and the strongest warrior would win.
Horror. It is almost impossible for me to grasp the horror of that alone. Add to that the fact that these kids also dealt with constant fear of violence.
Most had absent parents, but some had parents who beat them for some sort of imagined reasoning which was never explained to them.
One boy had an older brother who had always looked out for him, taking his mother’s rage, time after time, just to protect his little brother.
That big brother was killed one day while out searching for food. He had had the nerve to forage in a dumpster that had been “tagged” by someone else. He was told he had no right to it, and was then shot in the face.
The simple note was made that the family had no funds for a proper burial. No further explanation was given, which leads me to wonder what becomes of a body in a situation like this.
In this country, as in many others, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting more desperate. It is a shockingly horrifying realization.
If a person is gifted with intelligence, fast feet or super-human strength at home plate, or an incredibly sweet jump shot, or perhaps the ability to throw or kick a football better than anyone before them, these kids might stand a chance to become one of those people who can keep swinging at the pitches.
Truth. The truth remains, though, that these children have to survive past the age of 10 or so before there is any hope of getting out of circumstances that they were born in to, through no choice of their own.
I talked with a young man who I have known for a long time about this very thing. He is only 19, attending his first year of college.
“I never knew how good I had it until I met some kids who have lived a whole lot different life than I have. Man, was I sheltered!” he said, shaking his head.
More than twice his age, I have been blissfully sheltered, too. On a seemingly tough day, I will recall just how sweetly life has unfolded for me.
Humbled by the horror of others’ reality, I’ll keep swinging at the pitches, and I’ll keep my belly-aching to myself.
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