By Sharon Jones
Most of us think of charity as one of those things which happens to other people. It’s far away enough that we can care about it, without coming into contact with those who suffer. And, it’s no accident that we view charity, poverty, and suffering in that way. Keeping it at a distance makes it easier to swallow, and the government are more than happy to keep it that way.
In truth, though, problems like these may not be as far from home as we think. This is a point brought home by the fact that the United Nations held a study into poverty in the United States earlier this month. The results were a harsh wakeup call. Many were wondering why the UN was looking into poverty in the fourth most prosperous country in the world. But, the issues they stumbled across more than justified the effort. You can read more about the extent of the findings on sites like https://www.npr.org. It makes for some harsh reading. Of course, for those who have been following the issue, this should come as no surprise. The 2016 census revealed that a shocking 40 million people were living in poverty. That’s more than 1 in 8. Half of those were living in what is deemed as ‘deep poverty’.
Alston, who carried out the report, went as far as to say that the American dream was nothing more than an ‘American illusion’. He also claims the situation is set to get worse with Trump’s upcoming policies. Again, this should be no surprise. Trump has made no secret about his fight against Obamacare, the only real chance low-earners had for receiving medical treatment. And, that’s certainly not the only place he’s hit the poor. Planned cuts to welfare also look set to plunge low-income families further into poverty. Alston painted a bleak but realistic picture when he said, ‘If you are born poor, guess where you’re going to end up — poor.”
So, with all this in mind, why is that we look further afield, and donate money to help those in other countries? All the while, our fellow citizens are struggling to earn a living in an increasingly tricky country. For the most part, the issue is that American citizens seem increasingly unable to face these problems. In part, that’s because they’re often hidden. But, we also prefer to bury our heads in the sand than get out there are do something about it. We could take a leaf out of Canada’s book. As can bee seen from sites like https://www.habitathm.ca/restore, they have policies in place to help low-earners and those struggling make a living. Such charities are sadly lacking from our own efforts.
All we can hope is that Alston’s report makes it much harder for us to ignore the truth. That said, no changes seem afoot as yet. And, with Trump seemingly on a one-track agenda, it may be down to us to do what we can on a personal basis