06 November 2011

Thoughts From A Bus Seat On Economic Inequality

In college, I took a class on Latin America.  Part of our assignment was to create political cartoons about aspects of Latin American history.  When we got to economic inequality in present-day Latin America, I drew a picture of a mansion with a courtyard.  Through the window of the mansion is a dining room with a man and a woman seated at either end of a long, bountiful table.  Outside, the courtyard is packed with people without food.  I meant it to be a sort of pie graph, demonstrating the relative amount of resources (shelter, space, food, etc.) controlled by those inside the mansion versus by those outside in the courtyard.

I had thoughts along similar lines as I looked out the bus window the other day.  I watch a lot of shiny new cars go by--cars with one person in them, with airbags, climate control systems, sound systems, lots of room for groceries.  And on the bus, people pack in side-by-side, holding grocery bags or children on their laps.  There is no safety system--no seatbelts, no child safety seats.  Sometimes people have to stand.  This disparity bothers me.  It seems to suggest that the life of a child in a safety seat in a new car is worth more than that of a child in a stroller or on a lap in the bus.  That's what I am thinking when I look out the bus window.  And I wonder if the child on the lap next to me is thinking that when she looks out the window too.

In my idea of home, money isn't very important.  But I do think the concept of "home" includes an expectation of safety.  I think people need to feel safe in order to feel at home in our communities and in our world.  Children especially should feel safe.