Cold and Comfort, Disquiet at the Disparity

It’s one of those days where I realize just how fortunate I am.  The wind is pretty wild here in Krum and the temperature dropped well into the freezing range overnight.  It’s projected to be bitterly cold here tonight.

I personally welcome the cold weather.  I sleep better, and also appreciate the necessity of extended cold for the sake of yard and garden.

I am also not poor.  I live in a reasonably well-insulated house with a good heating system, have warm enough clothes, a car with a good heater, and plenty of blankets. No reason not to enjoy this.

But I’ve been reading one of the most painful books I’ve ever dipped into.  It’s called The Working Poor: Invisible in America, a national bestseller written by David K. Shipler.  This excellent writer brings the reader into the lives of those who live right on the margin of debilitating poverty, but who are nonetheless employed and hard-working people.  One little extra stressor–a sick child, a car repair, a lazy or negligent landlord, a bad harvest, a weather extreme, an extra medical bill, a fight with a spouse–and they plunge into a unending cycle of hopelessness.

Children born into this system are far more likely to suffer cognitive delays because of actual malnutrition and lack of necessary attachment time between parent and child.  Schooling becomes an unending nightmare, and parents do not have the resources to demand and get extra tutoring.  Plus, it may be too late by then.

These people are the ones who make lives possible for those who are more comfortable. I am one of those.

And this has all left me comfortably warm and uncomfortably disquieted.

2 thoughts on “Cold and Comfort, Disquiet at the Disparity

  1. I have never lived on the margins of poverty, but I have lived on the edge of insanity. I’ve known what it’s like to not be able to sleep and to be tortured by a wayward mind while I try to figure a way to have my bed accept me, cover me, make me warm, hold me in safety and comfort. When I go to bed every night, I think of those who can’t sleep , those who haven’t got a bed at all. It’s a kind of poverty of the peace of mind. There are many people who are able to help with this, and I’m glad.


  2. Some of those children are the very ones I teach. I teach them the best I can, but I offer them my love and caring more than anything else. They see this and it does help them. Take some comfort in that I am able to do what I do because you gave to me what I needed when I needed it. You do help those in need in special ways and they in turn touch others with their lives.


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