There’s nothing in the Bible that says people in similar places will live similar lives.

On the contrary, life is all about contrast, and here in the U.S. that can be pretty stark.

Wearing a cowboy hat and with his head hung low and his hands in the pockets of his Wrangler jeans, a cattle rancher walks slowly along a narrow dirt road in the middle of a pasture as he reminisces about friends he made in Vietnam who didn’t make it back.

Meanwhile, a college student wearing a “War Sucks” T-shirt pens an English assignment about how soldiers are merely willing pawns in a big game of fortune hunting in which the winners are actually losers.

A business owner’s wife sitting in a climate-controlled screened-in porch behind her family’s five-bedroom house overlooking a lake sips $70-a-bottle wine from an heirloom crystal glass while using a state-of-the-art electronic “device” to explore accommodation options for she and her husband’s next trip to Australia.

Meanwhile, a woman bundled up in the front seat of an old two-wheel-drive pickup with an inoperable heater waits for her seven-year-old daughter at a school bus stop on the side of a remote rural road on a frigid winter’s evening, while the girl’s unemployed father sits at home waiting for a friend to arrive with the chemical ingredients for the evening’s meth “cook.”

On one side of a gas pump, a man wearing a pressed sport coat and $300 shoes fills the tank of his brand new four-door pickup with premium gasoline before heading to the arena to watch a professional basketball game from courtside seats.

Meanwhile, a man on the other side of the pump wearing cheap sneakers with holes in their soles and the same tattered T-shirt he’s had on for three days puts $13 worth of regular into the tank of his rusty 20-year-old sedan before heading out to volunteer at a local shelter for abused women.

After her bi-monthly trip to her favorite high-end natural foods store, a woman unloads nine bags of groceries containing expensive organic meats, herbs and other items from the back of her brand new SUV.

Meanwhile, during her monthly visit to the food bank, a woman waits in line in hopes of getting one extra can of applesauce.

A “man of the cloth” preaches one Sunday about always helping others – even to the point of giving them the shirt off your back – and then goes home to his 3,500-square foot residence, parks his $50,000 sports car in the garage, hangs his $850 suit in the walk-in closet and sits down to a three-course meal.

Meanwhile, a young single mother who heard the preacher from the back row heads home to her single-wide trailer, parks her 15-year-old minivan in the muddy driveway, hangs her favorite jacket on the rack and goes into the narrow kitchen to heat up some leftover tomato soup for she and her daughter.

The number and variety of contrasts in life in America is virtually endless. Why so much contrast? That’s in God’s hands.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.


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