THE G A P
In my opinion, one of the world’s most pressing issues is poverty, specifically homelessness. This issue seems to be especially prevalent in my home town, San Francisco. When you actually take the time to look at downtown San Francisco, you realize that it is the visual representation of the wage gap within our country. The streets are shared by thousands of shoppers, tourists, businessmen, and unfortunately, many homeless people. This realization has made it difficult for me to walk down one of the most beautiful streets in the city because it is aggravating to realize that these people who are simply trying to earn the money to buy a meal are being shunned and disrespected by hundreds of privileged people who know nothing about their story or situation. Not only are these people suffering the natural struggles of being on the streets such as the harsh weather and not having the necessities of life, but they are also constantly being scrutinized. San Francisco is home to both extremes of the economic spectrum and the downtown area shows how fundamentally wrong it is, the extent to which inequality exists today.
Homelessness stems from the cycle of poverty in our country. Although these issues may in part be due to natural inequalities such as intelligence, beauty, and social capabilities, they are much more a result of our society and its biased systems. One of the most fundamental systems that determine the place one may take in the socioeconomic hierarchy, is the quality of education that they receive. Unfortunately, the education systems today are extremely skewed to benefit the people who were privileged enough to be born into a high socioeconomic status. As for the underprivileged people, although they may excel academically and in other unique areas, they often do not receive the same quality of education due to the fact that they may not have the means to live in a great neighborhood or to afford the absurd amount of money required for most universities in America. To add insult to injury, our entire society is based off of our system of education, therefore, if you were born into a family that takes a higher standing on the socioeconomic pyramid then, statistically, you have an exponentially higher chance at receiving a better education, leading to eventually landing a high-paying job and essentially, having a better standard of living than those who have a lower standing. This is reversed if you just so happen to be less privileged.
Simply put, our socioeconomic status helps determine the type of opportunities and education that we receive which is what leads to the significant wage gap in our country today. This cycle is reinforced due to the fact that in order to remain on top, the most wealthy people in our country typically try to promote inequality either explicitly, or subconsciously through using their unique powers to influence the political and economic processes. This creates a cycle, making the rich, richer, and the poor, poorer. I am, of course, speaking in very general terms. Clearly, it is possible for people of lower socioeconomic status to break the cycle and make an incredible contribution to society, but it will definitely take more work as they will need to fight the biases and inequalities which constrain them from their time of birth. Also, this blog is not meant to blame those who are privileged either, as it is impossible to control the situation in which you are born into. I am, although, encouraging those who are more privileged to stand up and fight for those whose voices may be muffled by society. Whether this be done through talking to political leaders, sharing the stories of
underprivileged peoples online, giving food to the homeless, or simply showing respect to everyone regardless of their situation, I believe that as people who are more privileged, it is our responsibility to love and care for our fellow man. In order to change our current situation, we must make quality education more accessible, especially in areas which are poverty-stricken. Through actions like these, we may begin to break the cycle of inequality in our country and slow down the collateral damage. Like Jean Jacque Rousseau writes in his Discourse: “Let us unite” and let us “protect the weak from oppression.”