Walls and Empty Space

HGTv is on across the room right now. For some strange reason, my ten year old sister has developed a love for the show House Hunters. Why I don’t know, but she’s asked me twice in the past two days if I wanted to watch with her.

A single woman who can’t be more than 27 just purchased her first house, complete with five bedrooms, for $290,000.

A couple of weeks ago two stories sharing space on the homepage of CNN.com quietly screamed the terrible oddities of our American experience.

A homeless man had taken up residence on a billboard, writing his own message on the space usually reserved for big business, letting everyone know he was there.

And a new hotel had just opened up in a big city with rooms running $35,000 a night.

One night.

For the cost of that one night, that guy living on the edge of a billboard could have a roof over his head, free and clear. Anyone shelling out $35,000 for a night in a hotel can certainly afford the same for a house without even stopping to think about it.

But that man spends his nights on the edge of a billboard. And another man or woman or both leaves their well-furnished apartment or condo or mansion to spend an equally expensive night in a well-furnished, expensive-mini-bar-stocked hotel room.

Am I the only one who sees the utter ridiculousness of this?

My family has lived comfortably in a house that will never be as expensive as the house that woman purchased on House Hunters tonight. What she is going to do with five bedrooms, I can’t even imagine. She’s spent a quarter of a million dollars for walls and empty space. For a fraction of that my family has enjoyed a home. For a fraction of what my family’s house costs, that homeless man could enjoy a roof, walls, security.

Yet still the television and the advertisements and the magazines scream “More! Bigger! Newer! Faster!”

All while a human being has to climb onto a billboard and paint a sign above his head so someone will notice him.

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