The Have-Nots

On Christmas Eve, when we were in Guadalajara, I saw a still shot of humanity, a quick snippet of two vulnerable people, that broke my heart and put it back together again in two seconds flat. It was one of those rare images of mortal horror combined with extraordinary beauty that has the power to imprint itself indelibly in the flitting consciousness.

They were sitting side by side against the massive stonewall of the church in the main plaza. He was in his battered wheelchair with his skinny and twisted legs dangling, and she was next to him on the ground, hunched underneath thick blankets that seemed too heavy for the small frame that supported them.  Her hair was snow white and her face was brown and wrinkled like the kitchen witch my mom used to have hanging on a little broom above the sink. On her lap was a Styrofoam box of food that I assume someone had left for her. 

At first this scene made me feel sad and hopeless in the same way that Kevin Carter’s 1994 Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken during the Sudan famine did.  Carter’s picture depicts a starving child, small and crumpled, being stalked by a vulture. The child had been struggling towards a United Nations food camp located just a kilometer away before she gave up from exhaustion. A year and a half later and only three months after having won the Pulitzer, Carter committed suicide. Why would a young man who had just achieved the highest accolade in his field kill himself?
I think that it was the surly yet practical wisdom that some people simply have while others have-not that killed him. I mean, we can’t run around saving every starving child that falls in our path, can we? And there just isn’t enough for everyone, is there? Which means that we will always fight over a lack of resources, and some people will win, and others will lose. Just accept it. But as a child, I wanted to know why it had to be that way, and I can’t tell you how many times I was crushed by the plaintive reply, because life isn’t fair.  Maybe Kevin Carter, whose job it was to capture truth on film, felt that he had lived long enough in a world with so much evil and inequity. 

Yet, going back to the scene in Guadalajara, I can’t help but think that maybe there’s something better than fair that we should hope for, something less tenuous and more substantial…
Out from underneath the old woman’s blankets came a tiny, spindled arm. Shakily, she grabbed a piece of scrambled egg from the to-go box and reached up to feed the man in the wheelchair. He opened his mouth, wide, toothless and puckering like a baby’s, and stretched his neck towards her as she flung the egg in his mouth. Happy that he caught a mouthful, he smiled and swayed his head at the people passing by, and she, like a windup doll, immediately returned to the starting position: the arm disappeared back under the blanket, her eyes closed (I’m not actually sure that they were ever open) and her shrunken mummy head tucked back into her chest. Clearly, this was not their first feeding.

I was amazed, not just that this precarious method of food delivery was actually working, but because here were two people that had nothing, “have-nots” by every definition of the word, that had exactly what we need most in this world: compassion, trust, teamwork, and abundance. (Yes, abundance…according to the old woman, she had enough to share.)

Going into 2011, I want to foster these qualities within myself. To start, I want to be brave—I want to be present and aware—so that I can see and hear truth in order to bring compassion to it. I want to trust in the goodness of mankind by first surrendering to the goodness within myself. And I want to work together with my fellows to spread the abundance that I know exists in this world. No more do I accept the lie that there has to be haves and have-nots. Matter of fact, I think it’s the belief in that duality that creates the injustice to begin with, and we’ve just become so inured by it that we blindly accept it as truth.

All change starts with consciousness, and I believe that there is more than enough for everyone. Let’s open our hearts and share– STEVIE


  1. Beautifully written Stevie. Very touching

  2. Perfect timing Stevie.
    To begin our New Year opening our hearts to compassion and caring, with the determination to really put our beliefs and feelings into ACTION. None of us will be free until ALL are free- free from hunger, free from violence, free from suffering!

    Thank you for so eloquently speaking to what is most needed in our world – caring, compassionate action.
    I honor you,

  3. Happy New Years Sprinter Nomads. Wonderful insights Stevie.
    xoxox Dave from the Square

  4. Well done Stevie. Much love to the nomads in 2011. Poverty and need is all around us. If any of the blog readers are looking for a good charity to help feed children check out Child Fund International.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully captured Stevie. I believe there is more than enough for all of us. Cheers to abundance for everyone and to seeing truth in every moment. You are a wide Lady!
    XO, lava's mama

  6. Stevie, beautiful, beautiful. You speak with wisdom and love from your heart. You two are truly experiencing Mexico and more important, the Mexican people and sharing yourselves with them – what a gift you give.

  7. Stevie, your insight into humanity is what I love and adore about you. It's simplicity at its most bare. Nothing to pollute the truth. Just an observation of how humanity connects. Your beautiful spirit speaks a language that has a depth that most could never connect with. Its like looking at piece of art and having someone next to you see something totally different. Your observation saw beauty where others would only see desperation. Thanks for sharing what you experienced. Candy

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wow Stevie. I like your style of writing. It's close to the things I read. I'm reading ROOTS now. HMMM.. Makes me wonder if you should help me on my book quest?

  9. Anonymous says:

    BTW that is April!!! me Wondering about. the book quest? Would you be interested in that? I dunno.

  10. What an adventure Stevie! You're writing and photos have sucked me in and I can't get out! Awesome. Love you girl.

  11. A bun dance
    Bread at a rave ???


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