How Many Hours Should A 3.5 Month Old Sleep A War That Counts Homelessness and Poverty in the United States

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A War That Counts Homelessness and Poverty in the United States

For some time now a good friend of mine in Seattle has been sending me photographic portraits of homeless men and women he encounters around his small office in the Ballard area of ​​the city. While the images cannot hide the sadness of their situation, what my friend tries to convey in the portraits is a sense of community, a shared humanity. Most of us will cross the street to avoid encountering a homeless person. We certainly hardly ever wish to make eye contact with such a person, whose living conditions, for whatever reason, frighten us. But my friend is an unusual person, selfless and sensitive to the plight of others. He is not afraid to engage with the homeless, to ask about their lives, where they come from and what the conditions might have been that brought them such desolation, hunger and an awful sense of existence. Surely to look deep into the eyes of any of us we find a little bit of all of us. We cannot escape ourselves.

Like my friend, there are many who are well aware that such a preponderance of deprivation in our country represents a social disease that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. In some ways, the great “Homeless State” represents an entirely separate state. Think of it as the fifty-first state, whose boundaries stretch west beyond the State of California, east beyond the shores of the Atlantic ocean, north to the Arctic Circle, and south to the earth’s equator. It is a landless state, woven seamlessly into all states. a desperation, poverty and hunger with a population estimated to be about the same as the state of Connecticut of 3.5 million people. At any given time, just over ten percent of our population is homeless. And it grows. It’s hard, of course, to know exactly what the real numbers are or how many children go to bed hungry every night in this country.

Funding for programs specifically designed to help America’s poor and hungry is being cut at a time when we are simultaneously pouring money into a country with a population nearly identical to our “State of the Homeless.” Since the beginning of the conflict in Libya, we have spent over half a billion dollars with an expected continuation of 40 million per month with no guarantee of any result other than that which greatly feeds the military-industrial complex and global corporate interests. That figure pales in comparison to the money we spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, billions of them unaccounted for. It has been estimated that the money spent on these uncertain wars could have eliminated poverty and homelessness in the United States for the next century.

We would all do well to read, again and again, President Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961. Equally important as his warning about the danger of allowing the military-industrial complex (corporatism) to grow too large are these words found in his last paragraph. “We pray that the people of all religions, all races, all nations will be satisfied, that their great human needs will be satisfied. those who have liberty will also understand its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensible to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance will disappear from the earth, and that, in the good time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

He also wrote, “In this final relationship, Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, worked well together, to serve the national good and not mere partisanship, and thus have assured that the work of the Nation must go forward. , my official relationship with Congress ends with a feeling of gratitude on my part that we have been able to do so much together.” Today we cannot imagine such a partnership for the greater good of the American people.

We would foolishly refuse to believe that there isn’t a direct correlation between our wars and our homelessness. Nor should we ignore the huge percentage of US veterans who find themselves destitute and rejected, living in poverty on the streets.

There was a time, not so long ago, in this country and others, when those afflicted with poverty and hunger could come to a house in search of charity—a barn or porch to sleep in, a warm meal, kind words, and perhaps a day or two of work. Today most of us believe that the homeless are nothing more than abandoned, alcoholic, mentally unstable, human wrecks.

The truth is very different. The main cause of homelessness is inaccessible shelter. Lack of jobs and low wages are other factors that contribute to homelessness. In the “State of the Homeless”, there is also a high rate of mental illness and alcoholism. However, with better education, social services and the availability of decent and affordable healthcare, many of these contributing factors are treatable and the consequences of homelessness and anti-social behavior could be better prevented. In a way, it is an enduring social conundrum. For thousands of families living on the edge, stress is a factor that disintegrates the bonds necessary for healthy family cohesion. studies have shown that stress alone can trigger the onset of catastrophic psychoses in children. Many men and women living on the streets today with diagnosable mental illness could have been treated at a young age and still be cured.

We blame each other to such an extent that the concept of “government” has become a foreign and negative separate entity. But in the end is there anyone to blame but us? A man who falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into a tree should not blame the car or the tree.

If government is less or more than the common rulebook agreed upon by the majority, the pages sewn together by democratic rulers to protect the commons of all, we have failed. When millions of our children suffer from hunger and poverty in a country as rich as the United States, we have failed.

Instead of fighting foreign wars, which ultimately serve the already overflowing coffers of the rich, our focus should be on the wars against homelessness, poverty, and hunger in our own country. Our most effective weapon is our voice and vote and we must fight for those who cannot.

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