Lifestyle

Poverty: A Little Up Close & Very Personal

Every morning I step outside of my rehabilitation facility, sip some coffee, smoke a cigarette, and analyze the world. I look to my left, I see high-rise condos, a couple businesses suitable for Silicon Valley. I look right and I see a discount grocery store, and I see someone sleeping on the side of that grocery store. And then I see someone waiting for that sleeping person to wake so he can make his first illicit transaction of the day. Then I sip my coffee, take a drag from my cigarette. I then look straight ahead to the street in front of my building. BMW. Benz. Porsche. Another Benz. I look across to the far end of the street and I see a familiar Nissan SUV, along with the woman who sleeps inside of it, changing her clothes outside for the world to see. Every morning as I toss my cigarette filter, I think to myself, how are the impoverished and the affluent able to coexist with each other in such close proximity without acknowledging the existence of one another. First it saddens me. Then it disgusts me. Then I come to terms with it. Maybe it’s better like this. Maybe there is no cordiality to be exchanged between two people from opposite ends of the socioeconimic spectrum. I’m sure this modern-day feudal system is nothing new. When has a high priest ever stop by the local barn to help the peasant farm-hand. A pharoah probably never invited his servant up to his palace for grapes after a long day of work. It’s the way of the world. But who designed this standard? Who wrote this policy in stone? I personally find my background scattered  throughout this conundrum, my childhood being an experience on both adverse ends. There were times when I was stable and secure, all of life’s necessities and amenities readily available to me. There were turbulent times, going from extended stay hotels to broken family shelters, food and clothing scarce, feeling pressured to bend laws in order to sustain the affluence I was previously accustomed to. Currently, I am probably right around the median for a 21 year old employed student. Very far from rich but surviving mildly comfortably. Because of the countless interactions, experiences and environments that have imprinted my introspection, I find myself neutral in the war on classism. Any and everyone is fair game in my world of intercommunications. I believe myself to be no better or no lower than anyone else I share this planet with. I enjoy and appreciate an in-depth conversation with a CEO equally as much as one with someone who collects cans to maintain a living. However, though I am blind to class, I am not ignorant to it. I am well aware that poverty exists, as does wealth, and that there are different lessons and responsibilities associated with both. In that acknowledgement, I am open to both classes input of insight in any form or fashion. These insights have helped me to tailor my future and my goals as well as the dangers and sacrifices I am most like going to come across in my path to my ideal self. I have also learned that greed exists in both dimension of economics, which has helped me to shield myself from anyone who sees others as prey instead of people. Which brings me to about a couple of weeks ago. I was walking back from my local neighborhood Wal-Mart, strolling through a particular area where homeless people line up their tents and congregate. For reasons I’m sure existed before my very own existence, this was not out of the ordinary for me. The homeless in this specific area usually get a bad rep for being aggressive, but besides a couple unwelcoming stares I was greeted with my fair share of head nods. It was just another walk down the street for me until I come across a woman and who I presume to be her child, sitting on the ground making sandwiches. I was instantly heartbroken. Though I never broke stride, all I could think of was how no child deserves to experience that feeling, and my empathy went to the mother. In the half a second I got to analyze her face, I knew that she genuinely wished she could provide more for her daughter. I also knew that that could’ve been me and my mother at any given moment in our tumultuous times. I wanted to help. I had to show her that someone cared about their well-being. I told some counselors about my experience and I got the typical answer of “just pray about it”. Fuck that. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, but I am also a believer in taking initiative. A couple days afterwards, I gathered up a list of housing resources and I went back to that Wal-Mart. This time, instead of hygiene and hair-care products, I bought cases of water and non-perishable food items. I walked through the line of tents handing out water bottles and food, hoping to find that mother and child, even saving a couple of specific food items just for them. I never did though. I met some kind-hearted people in my search however, a few greedy one, listened to some interesting stories and even made a few new acquaitances. But I didn’t find them. And once again, I was heartbroken. Hopefully this article encourages you to offer someone a hand up if you feel they need it. Let your kind gesture be that spark of hope we all need sometimes. We all share this planet collectively and it is our personal duty to leave it a better place then how we found it. I dedicate this article to that woman and child I never found again. I guess all I can do is pray about it.

 

Photo Source: www.corbisimages.com

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