Thursday, January 31, 2008


Yesterday I drove up in front of my grocery store and noticed two police officers handcuffing a young woman. At that exact moment I was learning from NPR about John Edwards' departure from the presidential campaign. The report included a sound-bite of him urging his opponents to remember the poverty issue with their other concerns. Call it a coincidence, but those dual events overwhelmed me.

As someone who has too many books overflowing in her home, it is hard to imagine a child who doesn't own a single book. But it is even harder to accept that same child is hungry for food. According to, over 13 million kids are hungry in the United States today.

When I saw the woman handcuffed yesterday, my heart ached for her. It's one thing to be arrested for robbing a bank and something entirely different to be taken away for stealing a roast.

I found myself thinking of the woman beyond that moment. It was as if I knew her before and after the incident. She was a single mom with two hungry young children. She didn't know anyone who would have enough money to pay her bail, much less be willing to watch her kids. She didn't know how to move beyond that moment.

That's what writers do, isn't it? We witness a fleeting event and it becomes a story. But sometimes those grim stories are somebody elses reality.

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