Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I meant to say was . . .

I joined "Bloggers Unite" which exists to raise consciousness about issues, having bloggers share their thoughts with others about things that matter, like the day for premature babies (check) or babies without shelter or Haiti or a million other things of consequence that deserve reflection. Whatever. I meant to get this up on September 8, a day to celebrate and encourage literacy, and I missed that, but today I'll dash this off, to tell you to thank your parents, teachers and all that is holy that you can read my words. Any words. Any words at all, because you have a gift that many lack, and a lifetime without literacy is a lifetime without books. Need I say more? Who cares, I will. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without the girls I read as a child -in Anne of Green Gables, the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the migrant farm workers' children in Lois Lenski's books, the depth and breadth of my understanding of people from all economic classes, in other periods of history, action in the face of adversity or learning how to love and be loved.

Last week, in court, I saw a man who wasn't given much in the way of gifts with which to start, and he may have squandered what he had with drugs and alcohol and poor choices. You might see him begging, or perhaps he is too proud to beg, but he lives off LDS Bishops' assistance, food stamps when not incarcerated, and a part time job at the local LDS charitable store that exists to teach job skills and self reliance skills to help folks get out into the workplace. He is over fifty, convicted of felonies, tattooed, and illiterate. Where exactly can he work, to pay the fines and restitution he owes? The court wondered had he any assets to pay the costs he caused to another. He has no upper teeth, why would he have material assets like a car? When asked if he was entitled to other benefits, VA or social security, admitted he was denied for disability and had probably never worked enough to pay in to the retirement option. He did two terms in the National Guard but was discharged when they realized he was illiterate, so it was proven he cheated to get in, so his discharge means no benefits whatsoever.

What might have made his life different, richer, more rewarding, and worth maintaining?

Literacy would have been a great start.

We can't take it for granted.