The traditional Christmas story is about an unmarried, pregnant, Jewish teen named Mary who, on a freezing night in Bethlehem, seeks a warm place to rest and give birth. Nobody would allow the girl a bed. Today, it is unlikely that such a person would not be shunned as much as the Biblical Mary, as we allow people to die in the Land of the Free when they fall to the bottom of the capitalist ranks where there is a dearth of mercy.
Today Bethlehem is a Palestinian town in the West Bank surrounded by hostile Israeli settlements. The entire town is in search of peace from neo-apartheid. It is as though Mary’s suffering festers to this day.
This Christmas there are people freezing to death on the streets of the USA, people like the Biblical Mary, in a desperate attempt to prove enough worth, from within the capitalist paradigm, to be recognized as human and deserving of a plate of rice and beans.
Thirty-four million Americans, including 9 million children, are food insecure—which means they don’t have access to an adequate supply of nutritious, affordable food. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness on our streets and in shelters in America. Most were individuals (70 percent), and the rest were people in families with children.
Even hungry people will spend their money on shelter before food, dreading homelessness, which is why we have far more hungry people than homeless people in the richest nation on earth.
At Christmas time I always think of the homeless and try to do something for them. Instead of exchanging gifts, I ask my closest to join me in donating to those who help the homeless and hungry on the streets.
Who knows, one of those people might be a pregnant teen who will one day change the world in some beneficent way.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.