A GRIM SIGHT

grim sight

A view from our hotel room window looking across the Mississippi

It looked like Beirut. Trash and debris sprinkled the worn out streets. Not that I’ve ever seen Beirut, but I’ve seen pictures. Buildings that once marked the success and advancement of a successful city sat in ruins – burned out from fire and explosions.

As we drove along the desolate city streets looking for freeway signs to get back to the other side of the Mississippi, I noticed the old traffic signals were either broken or turned off. The few other travelers out early on a Sunday morning didn’t pay too much attention to the make shift four-way stop signs propped up in old tire rims.

All the commercial buildings were in some state of disrepair to completely destroyed. It seemed pretty obvious that there is no tax income from property or sales to fill the city coffers to be able to pay for the electricity to run any type of street lights; traffic or road lighting.

We’d left the hotel and got directions from the kid parking the cars. He seemed confident enough, but his words echoed in my mind as we made our way along the ugly city streets, “Take your first right after the underpass – pass – pass – pass.” That kid had to know he was sending us over the river into Illinois.

When we finally got back across into Missouri I wasn’t feeling much better. I’d never seen so many abandoned factories and buildings decaying and signs of vandalism. I felt guilty… The day before had been grey and rainy, almost justifiable for a touch of depression, easily cured by my niece’s wedding and spending time with family… But a sunny Sunday morning? Clear skies?

That morning I looked out across the Mississippi into a part of a city I didn’t know I’d be paying a visit. The steam billowing into the frosty winter air mixed with the sound of a piano on the radio and the reality of my fallen world was weight upon me. If a person isn’t quite sure if this earth is the Garden of Eden or not, a quick trip into the inner big cities will erase all doubt. This isn’t heaven…

Despite all our knowledge and advancement in technology, this earth is fallen and continuing to decline. We’re not intelligent or motivated enough to figure out a way to take care of the assets that fill our inner cities from becoming liabilities? We lack wisdom as a society…

The trend to believe it’s someone else’s responsibility for all aspects of our lives is rotting and decaying our souls like those old abandoned buildings. Like those buildings, we’ve abandoned the moral perspective that makes humans great. We’ve traded our sense of security for freedom and now on we’re on the verge of losing both completely.

How can a person look upon the things of our society and not be depressed? It’s a grim sight. The saddest part to me is that we know down deep what is right and how to fix it…

We just lack the conviction to do it…