Playing the Hand You're Dealt…Or Not

I cry easily these days. This seems to happen when I see or hear about unnecessary human suffering. Necessary human suffering is bad enough. So you can imagine my reaction when I read about the prostitute in our community who apparently killed her own daughter, a young child who had likely been suffering from gross neglect since birth and had somehow slipped through the cracks, along with her brother. Sadly, this precious little girl may be the lucky one. If convicted, the mother, still young herself, will surely spend the rest of her wretched life in prison, despised I am told by other inmates once they learn of her crime. At least she will be free of the pimp who no doubt told her he loved her.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it is more than possible that this perpetrator is herself a desperado from a miserable, abusive childhood. She is likely undereducated, suffering from some form of mental illness, addicted and using. And don’t be fooled by the romanticized stuff of films like “Pretty Woman.” The prostitutes down on Route 13 are habitually sexually abused for as little as $10 an encounter, others for a pack of cigarettes. I don’t care how skillful you are at compartmentalizing your behavior, the life is ugly and ultimately destructive to anyone who takes it on. Regardless of the consent issue, it is a violation and no woman would routinely engage in street prostitution who felt she had other options. Now to my point.

We recently collaborated with the YWCA of Delaware to create video stories about people the YW has assisted in tapping into their own reservoirs of strength, people who have managed to rise above the hands they were dealt to see possibilities for realizing their greater human potential. The video stories were shown at the annual Donor Breakfast where other YW clients spoke–young women who might have become tragic headlines were it not for the intervention of the YW, its dedicated staff and effective programming. I sat at a table with several of the speakers and had no clue about their suffering and overcoming until they spoke. To say the odds were stacked against them would be an understatement, but they are now on track and determined to remain independent, to contribute, and to be positive role models for their young children.

Our nation was founded as a haven for those who sought the freedom to pursue a better life. When those most vulnerable succeed, we all succeed. Nonprofits like the YWCA who lend a powerful hand-up are getting results and should be communally supported. It’s good business and good citizenship, the kind of intervention that can truly help at least some of the legions of young people and families now struggling in this Greatest Nation on Earth to become a part of the solution. Lord knows, we need every good person we can get.

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