By: Lacy Hilliard
Recently, as I stood in the checkout line of a local grocery store, I became aware of a situation regarding the elderly woman in the line adjacent to mine. She appeared frazzled and upset as she attempted to pay for her cart full of groceries. As the scene unfolded, it became clear the womans EBT (food stamp) card had been denied. She frantically explained to the cashier that she was certain that it should work. Her embarrassment was clear and her worry palpable as she struggled to figure out whether or not she could afford to pay out-of-pocket for her cart full of basic foodstuff like spaghetti, milk, bread, bananas, etc. This clear representation of poverty is a display that occurs far too frequently in America. This brief scenario, however vague, was just another illumination of the significant amount of red tape and hurdles that poverty stricken individuals must overcome.
I left the grocery store with a heavy heart; wishing that I could have done something to help this woman, angry that the system seems to have failed her, and generally irritated with the many problems that face our country. Later that day, I would receive an unexpected yet poetic slap in the face.
The media has been filled with the details surrounding President Obamas inauguration and all of the events that surround it. The slap came from a major network, as a newscaster excitedly announced the menu for the customary inaugural luncheon. The menu was to consist of three courses; included in the courses was extravagant fare such as lobster and bison. As I listened to the newscaster enthusiastically recite the seemingly endless list of victuals, I was reminded of the elderly woman at the grocery store and the thousands of other Americans that simply cannot afford the most basic of human needs.
This has absolutely nothing to do with President Obamas politics. It is not a Republican versus Democrat debate because every single American president has taken part in similar festivities. I dont believe that the inauguration of the President of the United States of America should be a non-event. It should be a solemn and serious undertaking in which our chosen leader takes a vow to America; a vow to us. My question is, whats with all the unnecessary pomp and circumstance? Isnt excessive living exactly what has caused the degradation of Americas financial stability? Why put such extravagance on display? A leader that lives the change they proclaim is their lifes duty to instill is long overdue.
I dont expect the leader of the free world to live a life of poverty. America is about freedom and the opportunity to be whomever you choose regardless of where you came from. Any person that has achieved the highest possible level of government has worked tirelessly to obtain their title and therefore should be successful as per the American standard. The issue is that so many hardworking, educated Americans are struggling and the American culture continues to promote a living beyond your means lifestyle. Its time to change the way we build success. Its time to give hope to those that are hopeless and to move past the judgmental and callous disregard of Americas poor.
The inaugural luncheon was not funded by taxpayer money, though other inaugural events are. Private donors that wish to reserve a seat at the ostentatious event fund the luncheon. I dont proclaim to tell wealthy donors what they can or cannot do with their money. Whether or not it is their civic duty to tend to Americas poor is not for me to decide. However, our government is elected for the people, by the people. It is my hope that regardless of political affiliation and beliefs, just once our nations leaders will employ common sense and decide that instead of chewing on bison; an American animal that was nearly driven to extinction by excessive hunting in the 1800s; they will instead choose to chew on one of the millions of problems that face the country they have sworn to strengthen and uphold.