Novelist John Berger said: "The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing."
There was a winter when I was 11.
A time when my mother and I slept on this exact bench in the Erie Lackawanna. No one bothered us back then. Today there are signs hanging on every one of these benches that say only ticket holders can sit here. Saying there is a two hour limit.
A time when we rode the Path Trains not to go anywhere, but to stay warm.
A time when everything we owned was held in two old worn and battered suitcases.
A time when a feast was mayonnaise sandwiches.
A time when an angel was a teacher who gave me gloves, a hat, and socks.
A teacher who always brought two sandwiches for lunch, one for him, and one for me.
A time when an angel wore Blue and a badge saying sleep here Mam no one will bother you.
A time when two angels worked at the public library, and said please take this coat. Someone left it and never returned. It was never worn. Look the tags are still on it.
A time when those angels gave me books and cookies everyday, and called me by my name.
A time when a newlywed sister said Mom he needs to live with us for until you are back on your feet.
A time when prayer became my best friend.
A time when a nation went to war with poverty.
A time when things became better.
A time when darkness did not have live forever.
Poverty is not a crime, but a nation that does nothing about poverty is criminal.
Build new tunnels,
Build new highways,
Build new hospitals,
Build new schools,
Build new parks.
Give tax breaks to companies expanding their work forces,
Give tax breaks to companies building factories and mills here.
Put America back to work,
Raise the minimum wage to 15 today.
Make a pathway to citizenship,
Make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.