All of us need some orangesNovember 25, 2022
The struggle stalwart, Carl Niehaus, this week told a story about something that happened when he was serving his prison sentence. When he stumbled back to his cell after suffering a severe assault by a national intelligence officer one night, a fellow inmate rolled an orange into his cell.
He clearly remembers this gesture of empathy and solidarity to this day. “We all need oranges,” he said.
“We need oranges,” the lovely Snapdragon said one evening when she arranged the fruit in our humble home in a bowl on the kitchen table. “What are oranges?” little Egg asked. “You know very well what oranges are,” said Snapdragon. “You have had dozens of them.” “I didn’t,” said Egg. “Never in my entire life. Not a single orange. Not one. Ever,” Egg insisted.
Of course, it’s not the truth. She loves oranges. I often buy a bag – they’re certainly not the priceless treasure oranges were for Niehaus and his friend in prison. And she is much too small to understand the symbolic meaning an orange can have to other people, but there has never been a lack of citrus in her diet.
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“I have to eat a lot of oranges. I’m going to Grade 1 next year and they keep you healthy,” she said. And she’s right.
Snapdragon and I took her to the local school clothing outfitters last Saturday, where we bought an entire basic set of school clothing for her. It was painful. My bank balance took a severe beating. But I was still aware that far too many parents simply cannot afford something a simple as the basic uniform a child needs to get an education – something that is vital to the growth of this country.
Far too many children go to bed hungry. Far too many parents are unemployed. Which is a set of ingredients guaranteed to make the terrible circle continue for generations to come.
The children of this country need oranges. Yes, real fresh fruit, that can give them the vitamins they need and fill their bellies. But they also need symbolic oranges. The oranges that show that everyone in this country can take hands and work together, because we care for those among us that suffer. The oranges that prove that we are a nation, that we are a people with hearts.
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“I’ll make sure you get oranges,” I told little Egg. “All children need oranges.”