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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 11, 1998)
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- yygti,t of homeless will cause more harm than good
ERIN REITZ is a senior
major and a Daily
Have you ever stopped to listen to
yourself when you complain about
life? It’s all too easy to think within
our own limited spheres. The big pic
ture becomes clear only when we are
forced to look at it.
It happens to all of us. It hap
pened to me.
I was really irate one day. I was
just thinking about the fact that I
don’t have $400 to buy this leather
coat I’ve had my eye on. It’s the per
fect length, the perfect shade of
brown, the perfect distressed finish.
And I can’t have it.
i walked out ot the mall that same
day with a little anger, a new pair of
shoes and $60 worth of skin care in
my Dillard’s bag. I got into my car
(which, for the most part, my parents
pay for) and drove away from the
mall parking lot.
I plugged my portable CD player
into my tape deck and flipped
through my music stash to find a suit
able selection for my mood. As I was
driving away from the mall, I realized
I hadn’t had lunch, so I stopped at a
local sandwich shop and ate.
As I drove down O Street, I real
ized I’d forgotten about some person
al items I needed to pick up, so I
turned around and headed uptown to
my friendly way-out-of-my-neigh
borhood discount store. I got some
solution for my contacts, milk, new
lipstick and a CD. (Only the necessi
ties, of course.)
On my way home I filled my tank
with gas and bought a magazine.
Eventually, I did reach my place of
residence and put all my stuff away.
As I settled down to study, I popped a
tape in my VCR and made some cof
No matter how hard I tried to con
centrate, I couldn’t study. My mind
was being weighed down, but I
couldn’t figure out exactly what was
I wonder if it was the homeless
guy standing by the stoplight at the
intersection by the mall.
His dirty cardboard sign said
something along the lines of
“Homeless, Hungry, Christian. Will
work or take donations. God bless
you.” I tried to look busy while I was
driving by him so I wouldn’t have to
make eye contact. It bothered me for
awhile, but I’d forgotten about it 20
As I sat on my couch in my warm
room, my guilt began to eat at me. I
am a Christian, too, and I did nothing
to help him. I was feeling guilty, and
One thought dawned on me: We
are all really lucky.
You don t agree? You re wrong.
We’re healthy, and we can get
most of our medical help for free. No
matter how we have to pay for it,
we’re going to a school that costs a
good chunk of money to attend. We
(mostly) eat three meals a day. We go
out and spend money on entertain
ment. We live in decent houses or
apartments. We have bikes or cars, or
both. We have glasses or contacts to
help us see. We’re wearing shoes.
We take all of it for granted every
You ever think about this? I do -
all the time. But I still feel that I’m
living my life as I always have - with
What in me justifies spending
nearly $40 every so often on keeping
my hair looking shiny, or buying
another pair of faded jeans because
the ones I already have “just aren’t
the right style”?
What in me justifies not helping
out my fellow man on a regular
I don’t know the answer. But I
know how to rationalize my way out
of it. It is so easy for me to claim I am
helping others. I give offering when I
go to church. I was a member of
Habitat for Humanity (once, when I
had the time). I’m on die Human
Flights Committee of the Association
of Students of the University of
Nebraska. I gave an apple to a home
less guy a couple of years ago.
Most of the time, I don’t have a
dollar in my wallet to give to the
homeless guy at the comer. But I
have three of them to buy a latte at
the coffee shop. How much sense
does that make?
It doesn’t. And it’s really weigh
ing on my conscience. Is it weighing
on yours yet? It should be.
A lot of us are blessed with the
financial resources to acquire
many things that aren’t
necessities. Think about
the millions of others
Think about those who
can’t go to the store
because they don’t
nave a Dike or car and
can’t afford bus fare. Think
of those who have been
wearing the same
shoes for 10 years
because they can’t
afford new ones.
Think about those
who can’t afford friv
olous things like
CDs, or makeup, or
Now think about
what you ve been
aching to buy, and
how it’s killing you
that you can’t have it.
I’m betting it’s not
medicine for your
baby, or a thrift-store
coat for winter.
It’s time we started
aching to help others. -
We all know by
now the problems are
out there, so why
aren’t we doing more
aren’t without some
basi# skills; they can
find a better job.”
“Because they don’t want money
for food; they want it for liquor, and
we’re not going to support their
“Because there are places for
them to stay other than the Nebraska
Union, so why should I even have to
look at them?”
Wake up, UNL.
If we maintain this mentality,
nothing will ever change. People will
still be suffering, and you’ll still be
If you’ve never done anything to
help out someone in need, get off of
your kiester and do it. There are so
and you have time for at least one of
There are quite a few of us who
can grab an extra can of Campbell’s
at the grocery store to donate to a
food bank. Or take that extra buck
qnd mail it off to United Way.
Instead of sitting around on a
Saturday afternoon watching foot
ball, help Habitat for Humanity build
a house, or take your old clothes
down to the Salvation Army.
Quit complaining about and judg
ing those worse off than you.
Someday you may be die one ask
ing for help at the intersection.
After the fall
United States’ society squanders its resources for unethical meari$.
GRAHAM EVAN JOHN
SON is a graduate student
in German and environ
mental social studies and
is a Daily Nebraskan
Let me start by saying I misspoke
in my last column by stating our vote
might not count The fact that Jesse
“The Mind” Ventura (as he would
now like to be called) is Minnesota’s
next governor obviously proves our
vote does count. It’s our opinion thaf
might not matter.
I think Ventura’s election on the
Reform Party ticket is the best thing
to happen to U.S. politics since Ross
Perot founded the party and A1 Gore
became our vice president.
But how did Mike Johanns win
Nebraska’s gubernatorial election?
Especially when he lost the race in the
county and city he was mayor of for
four years? If that isn’t a lesson of
who knows best, I don’t know what is.
Alas, all is not lost. It’s only a mat
ter of time before the current system
of duality crumbles under the public’s
pressure in support of proportional
And how will this occur? “In this
soq^ty that’s changed so much, we
need to look at different ways to get
people to vote,” said Nebraska
Secretary of State Scott Moore in
Thursday’s Daily Nebraskan.
Want to get people to vote? Give
them an adequate opportunity to have
their voice heard. Proportional repre
sentation and campaign finance
reform are the only methods to do so
and are the only issues that will
increase voter participation. These
aren’t mind-blowing concepts - just
straightforward, fair democracy.
Furthermore, when adequate rep
resentatives are elected to participate
in producing policies, die public
becomes more interested, and the
policies become equal and more thor
Nobody can tell me the entire
population of Nebraska is sufficiently
represented when there are no repre
sentatives of die Asian community, no
representatives of the American
Indian community, no representatives
of the Hispanic and Mexican commu
nity, few (if no) members of low eco
nomic classes and only one member
of the African-American community.
The Lincoln and Nebraska I know
are a lot more diverse than our repre
sentatives in the Unicameral would
However, since the current system
is not set up in this manner, we all
have to deal with what Nebraska gets,
which is a governor whose first area
of economic cost cuts would be wel- -
fare and whose last area would be the
So we’ve got a governor who
would rather cut education than the
police force, and who would cut aid to
the poor and needy before cutting
Does anybody know how
mediocre fascism starts?
An integral component of this
method occurs when a society begins
or continues to reduce social safety
nets (like pensions for Widowed
mothers, day-care subsidies and food
stamps) and social freedoms (like
control of a woman’s body, alcohol
and drug use, sexual preference, use
of the death penalty, etc.).
This restrictive development is
then perpetuated when the education
of die future society is placed sec
ondary to police-force buildup, which
is used to enforce a controlled, social
ly conservative state.
When this all occurs, the general
public can be easily satiated (or repri
manded), easily controlled and not
educated enough to question methods
and activities of the state.
Most other western-industrialized,
democratic and truly civilized soci
eties use a quite different approach.
They understand that a strong welfare
state is actually a central foundation
to economic and social stability.
These countries place importance
-engmng people an opportunity to
gain experiences necessary to do the
work they are adequately able to do,
regardless of economic level.
They also believe all people
should have reasonable health care, a
significant amount of vacation from
work, subsidized post-secondary edu
When'a general concern for
humanity and sustainable develop
ment are the focal points of a society,
rather than individual economic
progress, a society makes great
strides toward a free and respectful
These societies have stepped'clos
er to existing in a peaceful and
respectful manner, with an abundance
of social, environmental and econom
ic prosperity. It’s about time we do,
because we can.
The United States and Nebraska
would not be alone if they pursued a
society of such ethical strength. We
could join the ranks of almost every
other industrialized country that has
worked toward these ethical ideals
since World War n, Vietnam and the
fall of the Berlin Wall. We have the
opportunity to once again be pio
But, until we do achieve this level
of understanding and consideration as
a city, state or nation, we can expect
more of the same:
■ More executions.
MA larger police state.
■ Legislation of concealed
MAn increase of anti-drug and
■ Continued urban sprawl and
■ The war on the unfortunates.
Need I continue?
Keep a close, watchful eye on
who runs your city and state, and let
diem know that you would Idee a
democratic, civilized state to best pro
tect your interests and the future.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in his
book, “Why We Can’t Wait”:
“Civilization, particularly in the
United States, has long possessed the
material wealth and resources to feed,
clothe and shelter all of its citizens.
“Civilization has endowed man
with the capacity to organize change,
to conceive and implement plans.”
Both statements are true, and both
statements can be realized. It’s time
we pursue this type of civilization.
Because the current one in the
United States just isn’t that civil.
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