This I Believe

Jessica - Xenia, Ohio
Entered on May 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Social justice and poverty essay:

I believe that poverty is a huge issue in the United States. Our country is one of the richest countries in the world, yet poverty affects over 31 million Americans, and of that 31 million, there are over 750,000 people that are homeless at any given time.

I don’t believe in Oscar Lewis’ culture of poverty. I don’t think that people who are poor are inferior. (If I did, I would have had to think of myself as inferior at one time). I don’t believe in the individualistic idealism, where seeking aid is considered abnormal. People are human beings. Human beings should value one another and stop stigmatizing others.

Our culture embraces individualism to an extreme. Helping others has become so stigmatized in our society that myths of welfare aid continue to warp people’s minds of welfare fraud. These myths are just that…myths. Welfare programs make up less than 1% of the federal budget. The average family size of welfare recipients is 1.9 children, the same family size nationally. Seventy percent of those who receive welfare aid are only on it for 2 years, not for life as the myth is believed.

The consequences of poverty are great. Those who live in poverty have to focus on day to day living in order to survive. They do not receive adequate health care. They cannot afford nutritional foods for themselves and/or their families. They may not be able to have adequate clothing for extreme weather conditions. They may be homeless. Living in poverty is a vicious cycle that keeps spinning and spinning. Yet, our culture does not embrace the idealism to bring about social change.

I believe before we start judging others and casting blame, we ought to start viewing the world from the perspective of others. It is time for our culture to change. It is time for American’s to start valuing people and not materialistic possessions. It is time to stand up for social justice and put an end to poverty and homelessness.