Bus connections do not make for a happy scene.
You can imagine the backed-up toilets, weary passengers stranded overnight and long lines of bags and boxes keeping the places for their owners waiting for long overdue coaches.
The Denver bus station is not an old or particularly dilapidated facility, but it certainly had an air of desperation about it when my bus rolled in at first light.
A broad spectrum of people normally take the bus, but at some times, often late at night or early in the early morning, bus stations seem to concentrate those among us with few apparent options.
Planning for a day in Denver, Colorado, gave me time away from both buses and bus stations before boarding my next overnight bus east.
A bleacher seat at an afternoon game at Coors Field between the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago White Sox waited.
It was the only time a baseball game and my transcontinental bus schedule overlapped in the seven major league cities I would travel through.
I had also arranged an evening meal with a friend I had worked with many years ago in Guatemala. This left only a morning open for exploring Denver.
Often the first place I set out for in a new town is the public library. These usually convivial community focal points offer a place to orient oneself to a new community, or just catch up with world events in their reading rooms.
The downtown branch of the Denver Public Library proved to be no exception.
Local tourist guides proclaimed it the largest public library between Chicago and Los Angeles. Following that logic, our Whitehorse Library maybe the largest public library North of 60 between Fairbanks and Reykjavik!
The Denver Public Library shared a plaza with the Denver Art Museum and an intriguing place called the CELL or Centre for Empowered Learning, which advertised itself as a “non-profit institution dedicated to educating citizens on the most salient issue of our time.”
I headed there, but before I plunked down any coin for admission I wanted to find out what that issue was. What could it possibly be; global climate change, resource depletion, the death of our oceans or the increasing gap between the rich and the poor?
The CELL attendant proclaimed without hesitation the “most salient issue of our time” is terrorism!
Maybe upon reflection I should not have been surprised this was the country where 9/11/01 after all meant only one thing. Few here would think of 9/11/73 where covert (terrorist?) US efforts to destabilize the legally elected Allende government in Chile eventually led to the bloody coup d’etat there.
Would the US backed Contra war against Nicaragua in the ‘80s or a host of other ‘interventions’ count as terrorism?
After an interesting few minutes repartee, I decide to keep my money and headed back to the library.
The new selection shelf offered several books worth a few more minutes’ perusal. Finding a table and a comfortable chair I opened Michael Oher’s I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond published this year by Gotham Books.
Literally on the midsection page my thumb chose this quote caught my eye: “Just the fact that a state has to have a department dedicated to the welfare of its children – the fact that something like that has to exist at all – means that the problems are still there and that kids are still suffering in foster care, even good foster care.”
Oher, the once homeless NFL Baltimore Raven’s star lineman continued, “That’s the worst part of it for me, as long as the cycle of poverty continues, there are always going to be kids who think there is no way out and just get trapped in their parent’s way of thinking and living.”
Are our neighbours trapped too, in thinking that increased security comes from building higher walls rather than health care? Or repressing opponents by force of arms rather than lifting children out of poverty?
What misconceptions about our own security are we trapped or blindsided by?
Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.