Familiar stranger

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago morning
A poor little baby child is born in the ghetto
And his mama cries
cause if theres one thing that she dont need
Its another hungry mouth to feed in the ghetto
People, dont you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me
Are we too blind to see
Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way

Well the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose plays in the street
As the cold wind blows in the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal and he learns how to fight in the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
A young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car, tries to run, but he dont get far

And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand in the ghetto

As her young man dies,
On a cold and gray chicago morning,
Another little baby child is born in the ghetto

— “In the ghetto” by Elvis Presley


And nothing has changed. Some of us have seen hunger only through the windows of air-conditioned cars. But we see terrorism and crime up close and personal when someone snatches our wallets, when our mobile phones get picked, when a bomb explodes and someone we know dies. And then we turn around and point to the culprit.

How do we know him? Oh, he isn’t a stranger. We’ve seen him beg for a coin while he gives us a smile for free, we’ve snarled at him as he wiped a grimy cloth across the car windshield, occasionally we saw him smile painfully in the corner of a postcard that our socialite friend mailed us for her birthday and assuaged her conscience with. Its been a while since we saw him last….and he’s changed a bit. But he’s the same guy alright…and he’s no stranger to us.

You and me? We created him.

7 thoughts on “Familiar stranger

  1. “We’ve seen him beg for a coin while he gives us a smile for free, we’ve snarled at him as he wiped a grimy cloth across the car windshield”

    Reminds me of AB in Agneepath, exact same dialogue, only was in Hindi.

  2. I had no idea that Elvis wrote so well. You have opened my eyes. Again got reminded of a philosophy of Gibran. Am quoting him below:

    Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

    But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,

    So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

    And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,

    So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

  3. Wow. I’m surprised to read about that side of Elvis. Very interesting indeed.
    Thanks for stopping by my dear friend Smithy, you’ll be seeing me around here often, I’ve missed you’re clever, introspective, thought provoking posts.–>

  4. Gratefully I accept the condition of man the way it is, knowing that somewhere I might light a candle, a face, or they might shine upon me as well…what is the light without the darkness. Shadows must play, dance resolve the issue of difference over and over again…eternally.

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