An Alarming Contradiction

I live in what is called the most affluent county in Georgia and according to statistics, the 30th wealthiest in the nation. Before you think I’m all high-rent and ask me for a loan, please understand that we were here before the rich folks came. Almost all of the trailer parks are now gone, replaced by huge communities with dozens of tennis courts and golf courses. I’ve got nothing against them besides the fact that I live close enough to walk to their club house but can’t afford the green fee.toilet

There was this guy nearby who wouldn’t sell his mobile home to a developer, so they just raised fence and built around it – kinda like Mr. Fredrickson in UP. To get back at them, he put an old toilet in the center of his lawn, lifted the lid, and used it for a planter. I love that guy.

With all the money around here, I guess its easy to let folks slip through. I suppose we see what we want to see and look past what is inconvenient. Downtown, the county is building a new municipal complex with the following estimated costs:

  1. Jail  – $41.5 million
  2. Courthouse – $31 million
  3. Two new parking facilities – $7.9 million
  4. Other renovations – $1 million

I’m not too good with numbers, but my calculator says that is $81.4 million in total. Does that seem a vast sum to anyone else?

I drove literally a couple hundred yards past the complex yesterday to help some good folks who are gutting a house for homeless men of the area. They already have two renovated houses in operation, within sight of the crane erecting the massive new government buildings. I sanded drywall, painted, and got to jack up the house  (which is an awesome thing to add to my resume of experiences! Yes, I have now jacked up a house.) I worked with several men from area churches and side-by-side with three of the residents who had been homeless…right here, in the richest county in the state…neighbors of an $81.4 million complex being built to mete out justice. An alarming contradiction.

These are good men, who don’t take for granted what they’ve been through, and are grateful for what they now have. They weren’t paid for their labor. They worked with us only to help more men get under roofs.

I’ve been blessed to work with homeless ministries in nearby Atlanta. But that is the big city with big city problems.  That is there…not here. I don’t have any grand answers, not even a proposal. All I can do is work with my hands; smooth a ceiling and jack a house.

I try to be funny most of the time here on my blog, and genuine always. I’ll be lighter tomorrow. But today, my heart hurts a little.

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.

Psalm 82:3-4

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25 thoughts on “An Alarming Contradiction

  1. this was a beautiful post, mark. not dark at all. i saw it as a positive message, to help others. even in the face of what is clearly an unfair allotment of spoils, there are people willing to help other people in any way they can. it is a great testament to humanity.

    1. Thank you, Beth. It’s just a little raw. I’m trying to work on something to compare to Meatloaf in Speedos, but will have trouble reaching that pinnacle of bloggosity.

  2. Good deeds. Good Karma. Blessings to you my friend. I had the opportunity in GA to work with Habitat for Humanity. We were living in a trailer then and did not even have a house of our own. Then my grandma got sick and moved in with an aunt. She insisted we move into her house to get the kids in a better school system. Good things happened.

  3. We are increasingly getting it wrong in America; that frightens me. But you humor did shine through. Now to find things to jack up that won’t be considered foibles!

  4. It’s always amazing to me how much is spent on public buildings, especially prisons….wowsa. Your actions really represent what many do, and see as important. Great post, and great inspiration that those who volunteer across the country aren’t alone, and that time given is never wasted. Really awesome.

      1. Confessions are in order, I work for a local government in NC. I am happy to report that the board is made up of fiscally conservative members. Every project is scrutinized for cost / value. Perhaps that is the exception instead of the rule but it does exist.

      2. I have to confess that I hate politics and try to stay away. Maybe it is as cheap as they could get away with, I don’t know and am ignorant (by choice) of their plans and process. We are definitely in a politically conservative area, not sure about fiscally though.

  5. Mark, I love this post.
    ” I don’t have any grand answers, not even a proposal. All I can do is work with my hands; smooth a ceiling and jack a house.”
    Did you know that this is proclaiming the kingdom of God. Just like the movie, “Evan Almighty” (loved it. i could have peed my pants I laughed so hard). Evan had to build an ARK. On Act of Random Kindness at a time. That’s how we change the world (at least our little corner of it), my friend. Good on ya. So touched that your heart was hurting too.
    Bless you =)
    Staci

  6. Hey Mark. I couldnt comment yesterday because like you i try to make people smile in my blog but this broke my heart and i didnt know how to respond. Youre doing what you were called to do and thats beautiful. You are helping these men. I love how that house is being fixed up for them. There will always be sadness and cruelty in the world but there will also be goodness. Always.
    Katie

    1. Thanks Kate, I’ve got a happy post ready for tomorrow. I’m better now, hoping to go back in a few weeks. I might take an alternate route so I don’t have to pass the Taj Mahal on the way, though.

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