This past Wednesday Night was another typical night In Laguna Niguel. We had a hot one in South County—But the weather had cooled a bit. The night was beautiful. As I was driving back home, I decided to drop in for a late night Starbucks Refill. As I drove through, I saw one of the “sign people” out and about occupying a corner.
As I drove up to Starbucks, I was trying to build myself up to walk up to talk with him. While at Starbucks, I decided to buy up a pound of Coffee too becuase $ 5 of it was going to be donated by Starbucks to the “….Opportunity Finance Network® and the Create Jobs for USA Fund. This fund is dedicated to creating and sustaining jobs by supporting community businesses all over the United States….” (Source: http://www.starbucks.com retrieved 7/12/2012). As I walked out of Starbucks, I finally decided that it was time. I walked by the local TOGO’s, purchased a Gift Card for the man’s children, and walked across the shopping center to visit with them.
It was a little after 9:00 PM. “Troy the Painter” was there with his sign asking for work along with his wife and children. I asked him how things were going. He told me that he had been able to get some small jobs here and there. He had been working in Monarch Beach and Laguna Woods. But, apparently things have gotten tough yet again. He and his family had apparently gotten a 3-Day Notice to pay or quit. As he spoke, I was especially struck by his sense of faith and belief that somehow things will work out. I gave him the Gift Card noting that it was for his kids. That’s all I could do for him. As I began to walk back to my car, I heard his wife thanking me. I wished them well and just told them to keep the faith. I could not find any other words. I wish I could have.
As I returned back to my home office, I continued to wonder about Troy and his family. I remembered a scene from Richard Attenburgh’s Epic depicting the life of Mahatma Gandhi. After he returned from South Africa, Gandhi spent a year traveling all over India to know her again. He was then invited to the All India Congress Party to speak. He reminded the audience at the time about the fact that there were 700,000 villages in India. He reminded his audience about while they debated freedom, democracy and trying to “speak for India,” the people of India were untouched. Their politics were confined to bread and salt. He reminded all the elites that until they actually sought out to understand the plight of the ordinary person, they would not represent India.
I remembered this speech because it goes to heart of the dilemma of men like Troy who continue to struggle daily, one step away from being homeless and going hungry. My thoughts moved to the deliberations in Washington and Sacramento. I could not understand why the US House of Representatives has taken the time to schedule 33 votes to repeal the so-called Obamacare law, hold the Attorney General of the United States in contempt, yet balk at attempts to help those unfortunate souls like Troy who continue to struggle every day. This is as the Presidential campaigns have been trying to out-raise each other after raising over 150 Million Dollars for the quarter and groups like Crossroads GPS are out there trying to promote “social welfare” by derailing the baby steps that have been taken towards Healthcare reform. I thought about the colorful labels of “extreme liberal” and “extreme conservative” which seem to have worked themselves into the political landscape today. I wondered what such labels mean and whether they actually mean something or not. I thought about how the rhetoric of “Freedom” and “Choice” is playing out in the street. I wondered about the millions who continue to remain unemployed and whether such unfortunate souls continue to lose a sense of hope daily.
As I reviewed the shocking news behind the bankruptcy of the cities of Stockton, Mammoth Lakes & San Bernardino, I thought of Troy and his family. What will happen to them? Can he save his place and buy his family one more month? I tried to do what I could for them—but I wonder whether the plight of such families will be remembered as the elections season heats up….I wonder….