Poverty. It’s a major issue globally. My Humanities class has just started studying it, but I am already familiar with the topic. I go to school where the majority of kids are solid middle to upper class. This has never been a problem for me, until yesterday.

In my Humanities class we debate. We argue, and share our thoughts openly. Yesterday, my classmates spoke about something they didn’t understand. They spoke arrogantly, and without proper knowledge. I sat and listened shaking. I was in full on rage. I clicked my pen, tapped my desk. My legs were crossed and I could feel them quiver. I had a knot in my stomach. I had never felt that way before. I kept thinking: how can I respond without this getting personal? How can I show them the truth?

We had watched a documentary previous to this discussion. I would think it would have educated them, but they still spoke with heartlessness, and selfishness. Most of them grew up in an atmosphere that ignored poverty, so I guess they have an excuse… They never struggled with money, or worried about food, shelter, or clothing.

This is a hard topic for me. I’ve never been without food, a roof, or clothing, but I have struggled, and continue to. I understand this topic better than the majority of my Humanity classmates. I am so thankful I don’t understand it as well as many people in the world though. Living comfortably is a privilege, and it has barely anything to do with being educated or motivated. It is luck to be born into a family that has money. It is luck to be born in a family that lives in a nonviolent neighborhood. It is luck to eat everyday. It is luck to have clean water. It is luck to land a well paying job. It is luck to go to a good school.

The poor are accused of being lazy, un- educated, stupid, etc. They are people though, people who are trying to survive, and most of them work multiple jobs. Of course, some will go off track and do bad things, but everyone does that regardless of class. It just takes money and support to get back on their feet…

My peers spoke about cutting back the money from food stamps, financial aid, disability, etc. They said the money would be better spent on schools, so then the kids could get a better education. One kid let on that free college was the worst possible thing to ever happen. After the documentary a kid accused one of the people in the documentary of renting too lavish a home for a poor person. They completely ignored these factors:

  • The students need transportation, and their home life may make it impossible for school. How will they get the proposed benefits at school if they can’t even go?
  • Let the families starve while their kid tries to get an education? The money already isn’t enough to survive on. Cut backs would be the worst option ever.
  • Free college allows someone who worked hard in high school, but doesn’t have funds, to get a great secondary education. The kid that said this probably just didn’t want to go to college and mingle with the poor…
  • By making it nearly impossible for lower income kids to get a secondary education, that makes the playing field even more uneven.
  • Not letting kids have a college education because they can’t afford it is basically telling them this, “go struggle your entire life even thought you would have worked your butt off in college,” or, “college is just for rich kids who can afford it. It’s definitely not for you,” or, “you were born into a low income family, therefore not good enough for society,” all of these things hurtful, and harmful to a life.
  • The guy in the documentary lived in the house he needed to for four kids. It said he fixed the house up as a trade for part of the rent. There are many circumstances that made that house affordable. It’s not good to assume someone is living lavishly, and just taking advantage the food bank. The food bank is humiliating, and no one chooses that.

I was one of four that tried to speak up in my class, and share what I shared above. 4/26 kids spoke, and sounded like they knew what they were talking about. Yikes.

I go to a high school where almost everyone is highly motivated in school. A lot of them are very intelligent, and have parents who push them in their academics like nobody’s business. Ask them almost anything and they’ll know the answer. They know things about math and science they might only use once in their life, yet if you ask them about poverty, a major global issue, they don’t know a thing. I see this as a problem.

Staying humble is key, even when faced with a small loan of a million dollars. Understanding and learning about other people’s daily struggles is very beneficial. We are all one. We all have a heartbeat and a blood stream. We should finally start fighting as one for what’s right.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way saying everybody at my school is rich and has no clue. I am fully aware there are many lower income families in my school. This was just my experience, and how this topic has effected me.