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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

feeling the heat

Months ago I use to read about the impending economic doom with little emotional attachment. It was black and white on the paper, but it wasn't necessarily apart of my life. I didn't feel the pressure of rising food prices because I ate out all the time. I hardly understood the affordable housing crisis because I felt my apartment was pretty cheap. I kept thinking the world was fine because I was fine, the people around me were fine. Now I live in a very different world.

When I walk to work I move through communities that are very different from each other. There is clear segregation in the city and each group seems to be completely ambivalent to the issues or needs of the other. The one good thing from this economic pressure though is that the gap between these groups is getting smaller. Now that everyone is feeling financial pressure or becoming overwhelmed with the thought of losing thier home or counting pennies at the food counter, the stigmas and perceptions that built the bridge between the communities is being crossed. No longer is there the stigma of "those people and their problems." Everyone is beginning to see how easy it is to lose your grounding and have your life turned upside down.

In Philadelphia, their are 120-130 people a day going into eviction court on the verge of homelessness. There is definitely a clear tension in the air. Crime is increasing in Philadelphia. Senseless crime if there is any such thing is crime that has sense. But I walk down the streets and people openly talk about their fear of losing their homes, and their are stressed mothers yelling at their children or men fighting with each other.

I don't have a choice to be detached anymore, and now I wonder if it was a curse or a luxury. When I begin my job, I hesitated over the idea of living at the poverty level, but now I know I could not do my job well without it. We cannot fully give unless we have felt the coldness of need.

no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die...

May I, composed like them
Of Eros and dust
,Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


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