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Thursday, December 06, 2018


by George Salamon

Richard Johnson received a cup of hot gumbo from a Free Hot Soup volunteer in Prospect Plaza Park in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 18. City officials say the group’s efforts do not comply with food safety ordinances.Credit: Chase Castor for The New York Times

'Twas the season to open hearts and wallets,
The season to shelter the homeless,,
The season to feed the hungry
'Twas a spell of Sunday spirit in a Monday world.
Those were the days, but they did end,
Authorities now warn us that by
Doing good, we're doing wrong.

You must remember this:
In the hard times of the Great Depression
Those not ravaged by its deprivations
Felt the despair of two million
Surviving in tent cities across the land.
But now, after the Great Recession, after
Wall Street's Ponzi-schemed pillage,
The hearts of the wealthy and the well-off
Are stone cold.

They do not care to understand
Those drowning in hopelessness,
Choking on their own rage and
Left behind by our master The Market.
Pitiless they peer at the plight
Of half a million, sleeping nightly
On cities streets, too close to
Their homes and their offices.

Once our leaders and those who
Whispered in their ears were shamed
Into helping the victims of their follies,
Compelled by morality based on empathy..
Now their hearts and minds remain
Chained to the vantage point of the self, from which
They sneer and snicker at common humanity
As foolish fantasy or fear and fight it as looming nightmare.

But who dares to predict if a society,
Seeking to regain past affluence and power,
Will someday fashion for itself a larger identity,
And one more humane, from the slumbering
Largesse in the hearts of its members?

George Salamon arrived in the United States in 1948 and was struck by the largesse he came across among Americans from different backgrounds and classes. He sees it in action today, but rarely among the rich and powerful or the "best and brightest." He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.