Sunday, March 21, 2010

Poverty: It's Our Responsibilty

Poverty: a deficiency or lack of something; the state of being poor. The word poverty is a noun but can be prevented by action. Though many wealthy middle/upper class American people consider themselves more worthy of attention than the poor and impoverished, they should feel responsibility for the increase in impoverished people. Though many would claim that the poor have “got themselves in to their situation, they can get themselves out”, they are simply making up an excuse so that they do not have to give up a portion of their comfort and possessions. Though poverty can be caused by a multitude of things, I believe that poverty is simply caused by the absence of compassion and the presence of spoiled materialistic people who are too caught up in what they have to realize that there are many who do not have anything at all. I for one am sadly guilty of being that person.

Therefore, I cannot blame the presence of poverty in our society on ignorance. I know what the problem is and the fact that I fail to act on it is my own fault. I cannot blame the presence of poverty on the government, selfish wealthy people, poor people refusing to get jobs and living on welfare, etc. because I am just as much at fault as they are. I cannot simply rely on the small percentage of philanthropists to end world poverty because I too can do just what they are doing. Americans have a bad habit of putting their responsibility in someone else’s hands and until we realize that each one of us is just as responsible as the other, poverty will continue to spread all over the world. But taking responsibility is only the first step. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”, we must act on our responsibilities. Once we establish that each person in the United States can help relieve poverty, we must then take the action of actually doing so. Every bit counts even if it means just donating fifty cents to a local organization. But, these actions cannot be made just once; poverty is a continual struggle and cannot be solved by a onetime donation to Salvation Army. Americans must be willing to give beyond their comforts and to give continually. Giving does not necessarily mean the giving of substance or money; it can simple mean the giving of one’s time at a local soup kitchen. Therefore, no one can be excused from giving because everyone has time.

Though we as Americans taking and acting on our responsibility will not end world poverty in its entirety, it will certainly make a large improvement and would also encourage other nations to join the fight. I understand that many will disagree and say that poverty is not our responsibility, but if we had any compassion, we would take on the responsibility anyway and join together to save the world from the destructiveness of world poverty. People need to think beyond their material comforts and ask themselves, how would I want to be treated if I was living in poverty?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with Kristen’s statement that poverty is our responsibility. The people she talks about in her first paragraph who say that poor people got themselves into their situation and can get themselves out make me angry on a very regular basis. They cannot get themselves out of the situation they’re in because they aren’t being helped out enough by people who have the means to do it. I am guilty of not helping as much as I probably should, but at least I don’t sit around and pretend like it’s not my problem and make excuses. Kristen phrased that perfectly when she said, “…they are simply making up an excuse so that they don’t have to give up a portion of their comfort and possessions.” I do agree that most people just get caught up in their own lives and possessions, and I am also guilty of that. When I take trips to big cities, such as New York, and see homeless people, it breaks my heart and I immediately feel guilty. I feel guilt because I never think of the hardships people go through until I see it with my own eyes. Americans aren’t very responsible when it comes to helping others, and I think it would be impossible to expect more than a small percentage of our population to ever realize that they can have a hand in helping someone, as long as others are willing to help. I think that poverty and philanthropy is just a vicious cycle in which a small amount of generous people will help make things a little better, but it will never have a big enough impact for things to truly change. For that to happen, most of America would have to suddenly become compassionate. The only way things are changing for the better now is because it has become a social statement or trend for wealthy people to donate money. Philanthropy has become a way for people to climb the social ladder, so most donations to the poor are made out of selfishness, not compassion. As Kristen said, “Americans must be willing to give beyond their comforts and give continually.” This statement is very true, but I don’t see this happening any time in the near future. The generation of people our parents live in and a lot of the people in our generation are too selfish or wrapped up in their own lives to be compassionate. We will just have to raise our kids in the future to be more compassionate and caring than the people in the past generations have ever been.