Everyday across the country a crisis is in full effect. Yet despite the urgency and attention it deserves, this crisis is almost ignored. We – as in the American populace - are aware of the underfed and starving, we are aware of the homeless and the less affluent and yet we remain stagnant when it comes to making a change. We do have various charities and non-profit organizations with the intent of aiding this epidemic but they are only as efficient as those who contribute their efforts. Our individualistic culture has formed us. We strive for individuality and success. Contributions are made when something is provided in return. The textbook Introduction to Social Problems specifies three meanings of poverty including the absolute, relative and cultural definitions. To summarize author Thomas J. Sullivan’s description, poverty is essentially an unequal distribution of resources. Whether the unequal distribution derives from a fixed economic level, a relative standard due to other citizen’s lifestyles or economic status – it depends upon which definition of poverty is being utilized (Sullivan, pages 148-149). Poverty is ubiquitous among the human race. However, regardless of the resources the United States has in comparison with other countries, the poverty rate continues to increase. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there was a recorded 42.6 million people in poverty, which was the highest it had been in 52 years (U.S. Census Bureau). Some might blame the economy; I blame the U.S. culture as a whole. We are all responsible for the state of the country. Now, I would not label myself to be pessimistic. Although, I know I tend to have a realistic mindset consisting of hoping for the best but always being prepared for the worst. When it came to choosing a topic for this assignment, I had to weigh which of the ones that catered to my interests evoked a greater passion to want to make a change. Poverty is a social issue so why do we leave behind the impoverished to fight alone? Sympathy for the less fortunate ignited a will in me to help others. Some might argue that the issue of poverty is a personal issue and I understand the dispute. But it certainly becomes a public issue as soon as it affects the community. In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island” (Poem Hunter). Humans are ultra social creatures. We are meant to be mutually dependent upon one another. With this, it should be apparent that we ought to be helping one another get a foot back on the ladder if one is to fall off.
Part One: There are several ways to initiate a solution to poverty. At the end of chapter six in the textbook on poverty, the section entitled “future prospects” explores different ways in which the issue could be confronted. The future prospects segment is comprised with the following categories: prevention, intervention, social reform, reconstruction and alleviating consequences. Sullivan goes into the logistics of income-maintenance programs, education and job training programs and full-time employment (Sullivan, pages 162-165). With the nature of poverty, I deem the aspects of intervention and alleviating consequences as the beneficial solutions that offer superlative opportunity. I say this due to the fact that no matter how much you help a person, in the end it is their responsibility to follow through and maintain their own life. However, I think most crucial in the process, would be educating. Without proper knowledge, efforts can go amiss. Thus, I believe in the power of communication. In today’s day and age, with social media and such, news travels fast. With availability to the internet and resources, today’s generation has the potential to be the strongest if the resources are used efficiently and decorously. Education is vital to a solution in two ways: to educate communities on how to aid the underprivileged and why it is important and secondly, to educate the impoverished themselves on how to raise the status of their lifestyle economically. Through educating, an intervention begins and by aiding the poor – whether that be donating food or money, volunteering, etc. - their consequences are alleviated.
Part Two: For the activity portion of this assignment, my main determination concentrated on the notion educating. Common verbiage declares that knowledge is power but in my opinion, it is only influential if it is utilized for greater good. The notebook paper attached to the back of this document is a list of signatures of individuals I discussed the topic of poverty with, educating them of facts I gathered from class lecture and hearing their opinions on the current state of poverty in the United States. I also created a blog titled “The Future Started Yesterday” and it can be located at: http://yesterdayisthefuture.tumblr.com/. There one could find my opinions and motivations, facts/information, links to non-profit organizations that work to benefit the crisis and my personal efforts to make changes in the world – even if they are the slightest, I learned that to someone in need anything really is appreciated.
Part Three: This assignment has been one of the more meaningful out of all of the college courses I have taken. A quote in which was the first post on my blog reads as follows: “You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” It is a quote by Woodrow Wilson. To me, it sums up not only this project but the way in which life is intended. I would say that this project was much more difficult than I anticipated only because of with any social issue, its takes more than a time period of 2-3 weeks to reach attainment. A handful of triumphs might arise but not without disappointment. Author Sasha Abramsky discusses the ups and downs of the poverty line in “The Other America”. She states that despite a recent “sputter back to life” millions of Americans remain below the poverty line (Abramsky). The thing that gets me the most is that we notice the ubiquitous homeless and we deem them to be a form of deviance and we disregard their regards for life. The majority of people living below the poverty line are not homeless though. The homeless represent a chunk of the impoverished but not all. Homeless or not, I have noticed that the stigmatized notion of the poor precedes a “blame the victim” belief. My point being is that there is plenty more I would like to have done. Therefore, I plan on continuing my efforts post completion of this assignment. I feel as though I bit off more than I could chew for the allotted time but it is something important to me and something I want to see change. I wouldn’t say I am successful but I think I have been effective in spreading a message.
In the course of my efforts talking with people on the issue, I even talked with a few children including my younger cousins and their friends. They range from the ages of 7 to 13. Talking to them was one of the situations where I felt as though I made a decent impression upon them. Their names are included on the list of signatures. But in talking to them and hearing their opinions on what they thought poverty was and their thoughts on how to make it better while being able to inform them of the reality of the situation was empowering. Their astonishment was incredible to see because it evoked a drive in them to want to make a difference. I of course simplified my jargon to meet their levels of comprehension but it was effective because they are the future too.
All in all, I do see poverty as a social problem that can be alleviated. As much as I would like to say in its entirety that it can be resolved, I feel like I would be taking quite a leap of faith. My hope however though is to put an end to starvation among the needy because that would solve plenty of issues globally including those that are health related. So, yes I am hopeful that the social problem of hunger and starvation could indeed be solved. But I cannot say it will be an easy feat or that poverty will be defeated universally.
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Abramsky, Sasha. “The Other America 2012.” Nation 294.20 (2012): 11-18. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 9 July 2012.
Poem Hunter. “John Donne.” PoemHunter.com. 2003. Web. 7 July 2012.
Sullivan, Thomas J. “Chapter Six: Poverty.” Introduction To Social Problems. 9th ed.
Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2012. 147-169. Print.
U.S. Census Bureau. “Poverty.” United States Census Bureau. 22 May 2012. Web.
10 July 2012. <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/index.html>