I absolutely love Washington State but this past week we have been in the news at least twice and the stories have been hideous. In defense of Western Washington…one of these stories happened in Eastern Washington. A little insight into why this matters is found in the ideological differences between the two halves of Washington State. Western Washington is notoriously more progressive and liberal. We are the tree-hugging, coffee-drinking, human rights activists who almost always vote blue. Whereas Eastern Washington is almost completely opposite. They disagree so much, in fact, that they have even asked to become an entirely separate state. They are loggers and farmers and conservative Republicans. And apparently they are suffering but so are we.
The first story was about a Yakima man, recently laid off, who decided to take his 9-year-old daughter with him on a store robbery. You can read the story here but basically he robbed a mini-mart (AM-PM) and while doing so he explained to the clerk how he had been laid off and needed the money to take care of his daughter. She was present for the entire robbery. That girl must have been traumatised to see her father robbing a store right in front of her. Children feel their parent’s stress and they also have their own. They take things personal and he said it was for her—in essence blaming her. This was a tragedy in so many different ways.
The second story was just today. A man in Orting shot and killed his five children before killing himself. Not much is known about this story yet but the mother was not home at the time. She has been located now but can you even imagine her pain? It is so very sad. There is no justification for such an act.
Washington State is suffering. In the past three months we have lost many jobs. Our state unemployment rate is higher than it has been since 1985 and higher than the nation’s unemployment rate. Our governor, Christine Gregoire, kept us in the green as long as she could. We did not begin to see the effects of the recession like other parts of the country until recently. Now it is hitting and hitting hard. Successful corporations such as Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks are laying off thousands of people and the forecast doesn’t look good for the rest of this year. When people cannot pay their mortgage or put food on the table—they become desperate.
Now, I am not excusing these two men’s behavior. I am simply saying we must stick together in this economic recession. We must help, if we can. Give to food banks. Offer help to friends and neighbors in need. Tell someone who is unemployed about job openings, training programs, educational opportunites. Charge just a little less for your services, for your apartments. Practice soft capitalism. Ask for what you need, not what you need to get rich. Reduce your waste. Give a little back.
It is the small things that matter. It is the small things that add up in both directions.