Letter: Signs of hope in the Pit of Despair

Graphic by Lori Deaton

My heart felt heavy in my chest as I walked from Battery Park Apartments to Pack Library. I had made the mistake of checking Facebook for a few minutes before going to Spanish class. One post read that Social Security will be called benefit payments. Sounds like a government handout to me. Easier for the ultraconservatives to put an end to the program, I mused.

Another post stated that the powers that be wanted to replace food stamps with a box of food like army rations. Good luck if one is a vegan or eats raw food, I thought. To top it off, there was another lunatic with a semiautomatic weapon who went on a rampage at a high school in Broward County, Fla. That county sits just south of where my daughter and her family resides.

Trying to shake off the current state of the country, I hiked down the asphalt hill to Haywood Street. I passed by two cute teenage boys, maybe 13 or 14 years old. They were sitting on top of the high wall at the back of the appropriately named Pit of Despair. It made me smile.

I turned around and walked back. “Did you climb over the fence?” I asked. The blond-haired, pink-cheeked boy in the plastic yellow chair said, “No,” and he described their method. He wore a band on his head with white ears on top. The dark-haired boy leaned back in his orange chair.

A big sign hung on the wall directly below them. It read “No Trespassing.” My grin widened. “That’s funny,” I told them. They explained that the sign had been down in the corner, and they had stuck it on the wall. If only I had my cellphone, what a fantastic picture this would make — a great act of defiance hurting no one. We need more of that.

For some reason over the past week I have been obsessed with watching Beatles documentaries on YouTube. I had no idea that Sir Paul McCartney had remarried for the third time. Did you know that? I have not owned a TV since 2003.

These two boys reminded me of the cute, witty, irreverent lads from Liverpool. “Good for you,” I commended them as I continued my walk. Another Facebook post described how employees at the airport ripped a 5-year-old child from her parents’ arms; another woman, a U.S. citizen, was detained for 20 hours without food.

Awareness is the first step in change. Instead of blindly following orders and being cruel to others, let us say, “No!” We will not be part of this current roundup. It is asking a great deal, I realize, for the employees who have families to feed and bills to pay. Yet, our world would be so much better if we all followed the path of right livelihood, of empathy for humankind.

[As I write this,] I have been up all night. I feel ill from lack of sleep, but when I close my eyes, images of injustice, lies, greed and violence gallop across my consciousness. My breathing is shallow, a weight sits in my stomach.

Hope rests with my grandchildren. I am a strong advocate for protecting the sanctity of childhood in our fast-paced society. All of the Fab Four were passionate about music, peace and wanting, believing that we could make the world a better place.

We elders are at the stage in our lives where we need to share our wisdom to help future generations. Let us walk through the fear and be like those two cheeky boys who exuded such joy atop the prison gray wall in the Pit of Despair.

— Anne Centers



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