“I bet,” he told me “If you took a group of people from here over there they would just kiss the ground when they got back. We are just so blessed in this country.”
“Really,” I thought “What is so blessed about this place?’ but I answered with a lame “Well every place has its pros and cons. I guess it was hard not to feel cynical. I was watching an eleven year old girl I had spent the last two years mentoring ride a carnival ride with the daughter of the man who struck up a conversation with me.
My little friend was leaving in the morning. Her mom was sending her off for the school year to live with a friend who lived seven hours away. I guess working, going to school, and having a baby with her live in boyfriend had become more important than raising the daughter she already had. What was so blessed about that?
No single riders this particular ride said. Never one to meet a stranger, my little friend found a riding partner and was high in the air while I watched from the ground. “Does she go to such and such a school?’ the dad asked me. “No,” I replied giving him the name of the school she had been attending. “Oh do you know so and so he preceded. After answering no to two different names I apologized saying I hadn’t lived in the area very long.
This, of course, brought on the where are you from question. I told him my parents were missionaries and that I had grown up in Zaire now Congo. He then mentioned something about the Ivory Cost was it near there? I said no Congo is more in the middle of Africa. He then proceeded to talk about how blessed America is. I bit my tongue and waited for the carnival ride to end.
Blessed? last week there was an obituary in the paper of a women who killed her self. Talk on the street said she’d tried before. Last week she succeeded. Last week I was talking to a parent whose son was raped by another boy. The police said nothing could be done because the perpetrator was under the age of 13. The victim’s mother felt that nothing being done had more to do with the fact that one of the boy’s relatives works at the police station. According to the boy’s mother, there are currently six open cases connected with her son’s rapist. She said she just wants to see the boy get some counseling.
I live in a small town tucked in the middle of America’s heartland. People say it is blessed. People say it is so much safer than the city, but I see a lot of hurt and heartache being swept into a cold dark corner. A blessed country would protect its children. A blessed country would provide a safe place for people to heal.