By Joe Rector

The image stunned me: a mile and a half line of traffic in the Dallas area. The vehicles were lined up down the road from a large parking lot. There, boxes of food were being distributed to people who were in need. All races, all ages, and all social classes were represented. Cars drove up with trunks opened, and approximately 100 workers loaded boxes of food into vehicles.

Flashback to the last century to see a similar picture. However, those images will be of people standing in bread lines. The country was in the depths of the Great Depression, and hunger was common for folks in city and country communities. The lines never seemed to end as meals instead of boxes of food were passed out.

Another similarity between now and then deals with housing. Foreclosures are hitting families now, and renters who can’t pay are being evicted. That’s not so different from the things that people faced in the 1930s. Most of us have seen pictures of families leaving their farms and homes with their belonging stacked in the back of pick-up trucks.

What hurts as much now as nearly 100 years ago is the look of despair in the faces of people. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and they show us the loss of hope and fear that now exists. Individuals don’t know what is coming next or what to do to protect themselves and their families.

FDR came through to save people during the Depression. He began a series of programs that gave folks the chance to return to work. As a result, some major federal projects, such as TVA, were born. The Civilian Conservation Corps employed young men to work on environmental conservation jobs. My father-in-law worked in the CCC, and that job allowed him to send money home to his family so that they could buy food and other necessities.

Today, Americans have nothing. Unemployment assistance from the federal government has ended. The executive order that reinstates some of the cash falls short in meeting the needs of people. The president said his proposal is what people need and that it incentivizes people to return to work. How is that possible when those jobs have disappeared?

We can spend trillions of dollars on defending our nation, but if we don’t have a realistic approach to this crisis, a country to defend might not exist. Some politicians say not another dime should be allocated to help citizens in trouble. How does anyone with an ounce of compassion make such a statement? The future of this country is in the balance, and it can be moved toward a positive position by helping those in need, not by calling them lazy and turning deaf ears to their cries for help.

The richest, most powerful country is staggering. Our position in the world as a leader is gone. We are pitied by other countries for the lack of success in fighting the coronavirus. Millions of citizens are hungry and scared. They long for leadership that will address this crisis and find the path to a brighter future. That is not too much to ask. All that is needed is a governing body that cares more about its citizens than power or position.