Wednesday, December 26, 2012

So, I was my usual self today, and I started thinking.  Now that I live in New York, I see a lot more homeless people than I have in other places. Now, in no way am I saying that I've never seen homeless people on a regular basis, (which I actually did in Florida while working at Starbucks, but that would be a whole different story), but never so many that I do now. So, seeing homeless people isn't a brand new shocker to me, in fact, it seems not out of the ordinary. I've only lived in NYC since August and I don't feel I've been here long enough to be desensitized to seeing so many homeless people, but I still feel the same way towards them as I have before.

I don't see a lot of homeless people, but increasing from 1-2 on a regular basis to 5-6 is a drastic increase. Shouldn't I feel more of something for them? I should also state that my feelings before to them weren't negative, they were much more of indifference. I don't feel as much sorry for them, as it is a feeling of resignation for them. If they behave like civil people, I see them as no different than someone who has a home. If they act obscenely, I see them the same way I see people who have homes that act badly: I look down my nose at them. (Yes, I do know some of them have mental problems, but some do just behave badly because they feel they can, or they want whatever attention it will give them.)

This lead me to wondering: why do I feel that? I used to feel ashamedly sorry for the homeless. What changed my feelings towards them? I think the catalyst started when Luis and I visited the Dominican Republic in May for a wedding. There we saw real poverty. The kind of poverty not even the homeless I've seen have. Those people had homes. They had homes in a third world country. Some of them were magnificent. I saw an apartment that was a whole entire apartment floor. It was a house in an apartment.
Then those that weren't magnificent were dismal. Seeing the rift between the two classes felt like seeing an epiphany.

It informed some part inside me, and it is the informing that can't be undone. Easily being able to see who was rich and who was very poor was a very weird realization.  From what I have seen while living in America, most of our citizens are middle class or above. Not all, but most. Since there are so many above the poverty line, the distinction for us isn't as clear cut as it is in a third world.

 It blew my mind.

There, the poor were terribly skinny, poorly clothed, and lived in shambles; while in America, most of our poor have at least one meal a day, are decently clothed for the weather, and are still working members of society. This doesn't happen in third world countries nearly as much.

Even though the thought of our homeless in America might be depressing, they are way better off than some who have homes in third world countries.

Think about that.

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