As I exit the highway, I notice the masses of people crowding around the streets, holding up signs, and waiting. This is downtown Fresno, where nearly one out of every four people is living in poverty. After seeing this, it is easy for the average person to fly by them thinking, “Why can’t they just get a job?” This is precisely where the problem begins.
Students, such as myself, have been taught since we were young to ignore the homeless. We have been taught stereotypes about the homeless, been told not to give them money, and been scolded when trying to engage with them. Why is it okay to assume the worst of them? How does this illustrate the economy’s or society’s best interest?
The homeless are stigmatized, automatically given a bad reputation by society, and this speaks negatively about us as a society. But, the reality is not that these people do not have the ability to work; in fact, simply because they are homeless often has no correlation with their skills as a worker, and we have to realize this. We have to ask ourselves why our society is this way, and respond from a place of compassion in our hearts. Oftentimes, the true reason they are homeless is simply because of a lack of opportunity.
As a privileged and educated teenager, I have never had to worry how I would find my next meal or where I was going to sleep at night. Because of this, it is impossible for people such as myself to imagine what the homeless go through on a daily basis.
The main issue is not their lack of capability, it is their lack of opportunity.
Research reveals that the two greatest reasons that people are homeless are due to the lack of affordable housing and the inability for them to take on employment. The homeless are unable to afford housing because their job applications will not be accepted. Here, a negative loop is established, largely because of the assumptions that our society places on the homeless.
It’s unfair to make assumptions merely from the way we see them as we do not know their past or how they ended up in this position. Simply because we were dealt a better hand in life does not give us the right to ignore those who have not. If we do not act now, our entire socioeconomic system will continue to head in the wrong directions. But we can steer it the right way by getting behind that wheel as a unified team and making the effort to turn it together.
As economically capable individuals, we can make a difference, and we are not limited to any single way.
This situation can be improved by placing importance on human beings as a whole over solely our own advancements. We have the power to help others make a change in their lives, and it is not by handing them a key to success, but by using our resources to provide them with a platform to thrive. In other words, offering the less fortunate an opportunity to find their own strengths and channel their own successes.
The growing disparities between the rich and the poor in our world is a real existence, and it continues to have negative effects on lives, specifically in developing countries. To illustrate, greater levels of wealth directly correlate with greater longevity in lifespan (NY Times). This is partially because taking care of one’s health can be expensive; eating healthy, getting exercise, and paying hospital bills all account for a greater longevity, and many do not have access to resources that promote these actions. If issues such as these are not improved, a growing wall of separation will begin to sort humans into two different walks of life: the wealthy and the impoverished.
As human beings, we have the knowledge and the power to create a strong and healthy economic world. As a young man, I believe a powerful economy revolves around exemplifying the notion of “people over profits” as well as increasing financial independence. People need each other to survive, so rather than prioritizing ourselves, it is important that we hold each other up in a unified fight for the growing economy of the future.
This is a guest post by Sachin Kulkarni. Sachin is an accomplished high school junior passionate about sculpting his community into a place that recognizes the importance of equality and a strong standard of care. He’s the CEO and Founder of the nonprofit, Proceeds to People (proceedstopeople.com) where he and his fellow classmates form partnerships and work to fundraise as well as strengthen the fibers of their community. “As a young man, I am passionate about communicating and forming relations with others while helping much of the younger generation do the same.”
*The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest blogger.*