Bean Town- Chicago’s Highs and Lows are in Plain Sight


IMAGE / Wikimedia Commons

The Chicago skyline gives an exterior view of the urban jungle.

Life in a big city is, without a doubt, attractive.

There is more to experience, a vast selection of foods to eat, a healthier lifestyle that comes with more walking, and a population that looks diverse in a way that represents the American Dream like I’ve never seen before.

My trip to Chicago was an adventure.

I fell into some of the tourist traps, Shed Aquarium, the Skydeck at Willis Tower, classic Chicago Style deep dish pizza, and shopping on the “Magnificent Mile.”

And those were all enjoyable experiences.

The common thread I’ve discovered in all of the larger cities I’ve visited is that everything you want is attainable- if you can pay for it.

But what about the people that can’t pay for it?

I got to walk almost everywhere we went in the city and there were lots of beautiful things to look at, the architecture, the skylines, even the well-dressed people.

Yet there was an omnipresent air of poverty.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; For all of the wealthy vacationers buying $120 jeans and $30 souvenir mugs, there were also people on the street asking for money or a hot meal.

My instinct every time I saw a person on the street was to give them a hug and a home, but I alone can’t do that for all of the people I saw. There were just too many.

The other prominent part of the visible poverty in the city was the racial disparity and the obvious need for more accessible mental health services.

For every white person I saw on the street there were two more black or hispanic people. It seemed easy for city residents to write off people in need of treatment as “the crazy guy on the corner” without another glance, and the idea of being desensitized to that kind of need is terrifying.

The city description I’ve given thus far might make it seem like a scary or desolate place without redemption, but that isn’t entirely true.

I was there for a total of three days and witnessed a balance between good and bad, rich and poor, that seems to provide an excellent metaphor for American society.

We have well-financed people who have little difficulty making their way in the world. They build rockets and develop scientific advancements that surpass my wildest expectations.

They are said to be the ones who move society forward.

I would disagree.

A society cannot move forward when it has people being left behind; therefore, the people moving society forward are the ones that help the people who get left behind- the social workers, charity volunteers, mental health professionals, and more.

I would recommend visiting Chicago as a vacation spot.

There is a lot to do, a lot to see, and much to serve as motivation when you get back to work- hopefully to make the world a better place.