There is a middle aged woman who lives in an upstairs apartment not far from my office. When she is out walking while I’m parking my car, she strikes up a conversation about something she believes is important for me to know. Usually she begins the conversation with, “Did you know…” It normally has something to do with a building or home in or near the downtown that holds significance. She appears to be quite taken on the history of Mason City and North Iowa. If only someone had the time to help with her growth and development. I can sense that she has had a number of bumps in the road in her life and she really doesn’t like where those bumps have landed her. I’m filled with empathy for her as well as another middle-aged gentleman whom I’ve seen many times walking the streets. I think he lives somewhere near the downtown as well. Several days ago I was in a nearby grocery store to purchase some supplies for the office and I noticed on the entrance to the store a sign saying they cannot accept or process food stamp cards. Well, shortly after I walked in I noticed him at the cash register trying to buy groceries and the clerk was telling him that his food card couldn’t be validated. Oh, the look of disbelief on his face I will never forget. I could almost “feel” his despair. After seeing these situations and more, I believe we all should work towards not becoming dependent on the State or Federal Government to sustain our lives. We should never consider ourselves incapable of maintaining our own lives no matter how simple they may seem. Simplicity is a good thing—lives are then less cluttered with all the baggage of making ourselves accountable to some government entity. Living a life of self worth and independence is far better than living a life in the shadow that overly shades us by some government umbrella set up to “care take us”.