Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
William Blake: On Another's Sorrow, from Songs of Innocence, 1789
(from Tom Clark, Beyond the Pale)
Once the 9/11 observances were over, media types and political spokespeople stepped up and began sticking forks in the economy. My belief is that way more people are no longer even part of the economy than anyone will acknowledge. We have been here before.
On his blog, Tom Clark has been sharing researched and collected photos commissioned by the Farm Security Administration when last America was in (let's call it by its name) a Depression. His postings go back several months (certainly back to July 27, the topics are listed along side the posts) and illuminate, sometimes with photos alone, sometimes with accompanying text, who and where we have been. As the child of parents who grew up during the Great Depression - what would they call this one? - and a reader of Steinbeck and others who took up the cause of the afflicted, I saw in the photos the stories we are not meant to forget.
There may be nothing that makes me angrier than being mistaken for a fool. I know our government lies to us, I'd hate to see just how much dirt they've tried to sweep under the rug and I have no idea who will ever be able to clean it up.
The photos tell a far more compelling story of lessons unlearned than I can. We may not have answers, Congress may block President Obama's every attempt at repair, but we can still know how deeply too many of our countrymen have been wounded by a government that implied it cared for them and would see them through hard times.
One thing we can do is recognize how far from our national purpose we've drifted and at least share our hearts with those whose only constant is jeopardy. We may have no answers but we can, we must, care that such is the case.