When you think of homelessness, what comes to mind? Do you picture someone on the side of the street holding up a cardboard sign and begging for money?
This is a stereotypical image, however; not all homeless people will be on the side of a street begging. There are some homeless people that you would not even know are homeless just by looking at them.
Some people have misconceptions about those who are homeless: beliefs that all homeless people are addicts, that they are the products of bad choices, or that they deserve to be in their situation. Because of these perpetuated stereotypes, some are not willing to help those in poverty.
Do not look at the marginalized as people who are beneath you. See them as people, as human beings who deserve to have their dignity maintained.
I have served over 1000 hours of community service in the past five years, and the majority of those hours have been spent with the poor, hungry and homeless. It is bothersome when people label the impoverished as “lazy,” “not motivated,” or “too dependent on the government.” You do not know the stories of the poor. No one wants to be in poverty. No one chooses to have this harsh reality. No one wants to debate whether he or she will be able to live another day.
The cycle of poverty is restricting, and the poor work incredibly hard to rise above their circumstances. Yes, it is true that to a certain extent people should not depend on the government. But there are some things individuals cannot provide for themselves, and it is the role of the government to provide them.
The inequality between the rich and poor is astounding. While the rich have gotten richer in recent years, the poor have gotten poorer. According to stopthehunger.com, the amount of U.S. dollars spent on weight loss products and programs today alone is three times the amount needed to feed the hungry of the world. Combine that with the money spent on food tossed away today, the figure jumps to six times what is needed to feed the hungry.
There needs to be more social equality. To decrease social inequality, we should expand the social programs of the needy so as to provide availability and coverage to more people.
There are many problems in the world, and I wish I could fix them all. No one should have to live in fear, abuse, violence, hurt or poverty. No one should be denied the basic privileges of clean water, food, clothing or shelter. We take for granted the little things that are considered luxuries to those who are less fortunate. We need to appreciate what we have and see that we are blessed beyond imagination. We need to do what we can with what we have.
Each of us can make a difference, whether big or small. Each person is born with the ability to change someone’s life. Why not change a life for the better if we are capable of doing so?
One act of kindness can make someone else’s day. There is nothing better than knowing that someone has it a little less hard because you helped them out. Next time you see a homeless person or someone who is struggling, look at him or her with an open mind and with compassion. Do it because they are people, and everybody needs somebody sometimes.
Often the poor forget that they are worthy, or that they are somebodies. Let us love them and remind them that they are worthy of help, success, health and blessings. Let’s make a positive change. We can do it.