We Could Do It If We Wanted To

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Hardwick’s Spring Fest and Memorial Day Parade is a big event here. The weather was perfect and the crowds were back to being as big as they ever were pre-pandemic.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
A large crowd gathered on Atkins Field after the Kiwanis Spring Festival parade enjoying the many concession stands, crafts and games offered throughout the field.

I fully support Memorial Day and the activities surrounding it as a tribute to the country’s soldiers who have died while serving their country. (Though I prefer to think of them as people rather than “troops,” as the news often refers to them as a way to depersonalize the ultimate sacrifice of military service.)

I support those activities as an American, despite having had no choice about where I was born. What I do have a choice about is working for a world where no one dies except by natural causes or an accident.

But, none of that is really what this piece is about, except that it has to do with my being at Atkins Field this morning while teaching a tai chi class and noting that there wasn’t a trace of Saturday’s explosion of tents, food trucks and kitchen equipment enough to make plenty of food for the crowds. Nor was there a trace of the Farmers Market that popped up on Friday afternoon.

How is it that we can set up what amounts to a small town in a matter of hours; a small town that can feed hundreds and provide them with food, cultural entertainment, the Rescue Squad’s mobile medical vehicles at the head and tail of the parade and even a port-a-potty restroom, while we have people in this state and country (not to mention the rest of the world) who are going without adequate shelter, or food, or water?

What popped up at Atkins Field this weekend obviously wouldn’t provide for all an unhomed or underfed person needed, but the point is, it happened and could happen; the pop-up canopies could be complete tents, the food could be available free to those who need it and there could be fully equipped bathrooms with showers.

Why doesn’t that happen for those who need it? Is it that the people attending last weekend’s events had the money to pay for the food, crafts and trinkets on offer?

That alone doesn’t explain it because, during the pandemic, much of the country somehow found the funds to pay for free school lunches, to pay for free lunches during the summer for students, to offer motel vouchers to homeless people.

Yes, those funds came from “free” federal pandemic funds, but let’s not fool ourselves, those are our funds, coming from the federal government rather than state government, or our own savings accounts.

It’s almost certain that no one chooses to be without adequate shelter, or without clean water or without enough food.

Just like we can pop up the elements of a fair for Spring Fest, we could pop up what people who need our help require to be safely homed and fed. We don’t memorialize those who die because their needs aren’t being met and we often ignore them, but that’s a choice we make.

We don’t have to make that choice, we could do it if we wanted to.

Paul Fixx

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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