Every day, thousands of Americans take steps to improve their own lives and the lives of their neighbors, even when doing so goes against political orthodoxy. Every day, thousands of Americans take small, important stands in their communities against a worn-out philosophy that places the profit and privilege of the powerful over the needs of people.
Micro-Progress posts will attempt to tell these stories.
Finally, we all need periodic reminding that local adds up to global, that micro-progress adds up to macro-progress. All the great progressive victories of American history were merely accumulations of the micro-victories of ordinary Americans. All of our great people's movements were merely collections of individual people who decided to begin taking responsibility and begin taking action.
So now, on to our first Micro-Progress story...
Over the holidays, I came across a tiny AP story in my hometown newspaper. The headline read, "Ohio Schools Keep Cafeterias Open For Holidays." Basically, a school district outside Cincinnati decided to leave its cafeterias open over Christmas break to provide hot lunches for needy students, and it was the first time the district had ever done that. That's it.
(photos by Ernest Coleman/The Enquirer)
In other words, some folks in the school district thought, "We have hungry kids in the community. We have food and a place to serve it. Let's make it happen."
I read the article and thought, "I bet the simplicity and compassion of this story would drive arch-conservatives nuts." Think about it, public money funding a public institution to feed poor children. That's "spreading the wealth around!" That's "redistribution!" That's socialism! Or communism! Or something.
Well, sure enough...
The Cincinnati Enquirer has a longer version of the story, and on the website readers can leave comments. Out of a total of five commenters, three people are angry about the schools feeding poor children, one person's comment was removed by the moderator, and one person is supportive of the program.
One real charmer writes, ""If you can't feed, clothe and provide shelter for [your children] DON'T HAVE THEM."
(In other words, "Sorry little girl. We can't feed you. Your mother shouldn't have given birth to you.")
Another champ, who goes by Diddy56, complains about, "too many handouts" and "people [abusing] the system."
Lunchlady82 writes, "Constant handouts only make people lazy. These people have no direction or goals. They just stumble through life and have no plan from one day to the next."
(In other words, "Sorry little girl. We can't open this can of apple sauce, because it will make you lazy. You need goals.")
In the future, Better Than Machines will revisit the topic of people who are barely getting by resenting those who aren't getting by--where that resentment comes from, how it's manifested, who it serves. But for now...
Here's a round of applause for the North College Hill School District, for doing the right thing with the resources they have, even if it goes against what we're told is politically acceptable. I'd call that Micro-Progress.