Saturday, June 16, 2012

Social Justice in America

Before looking at social injustice around the world, we can look in our own backyard.  Last September, the New York Times reported that over 15 percent of Americans, 46 million people, live below the poverty line. the highest number ever reported and the highest percentage since the mid 1990s.  That same month, CNN revealed that over 16 percent of Americans went without health insurance in 2010 - almost 50 million people.  Remember that some of these individuals are children under the age of 18.  More specifically, over 16 million children, 36 percent of the poor population (National Poverty Center).  And about 10 percent of minors lack any health insurance (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services).

Of those individuals experiencing poverty in the U.S., many find themselves homeless at one time or another.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, calculating the number of persons finding themselves homeless at any given time can be difficult.  However, utilizing various sources, the coalition estimates that as many as 3.5 million people may be homeless; 39 percent of these individuals are children.

As someone who is involved with overseas orphan care work, I am familiar with the various medical clinics that nonprofit organizations hold around the world.  When these clinics occur, people walk for miles and wait for hours for the opportunity to be seen by medical personnel as it is usually the only medical care they will receive.  It is heartbreaking and something I associate with third world nations.  Imagine my surprise when I found this exhibit by photographer Katie Falkenberg about similar clinics held in the U.S.  View the slideshow and read the captions, then tell me you're as shocked as I was.  

The United States is the richest nation that has ever existed but we cannot feed, house, and provide basic medical care for all of our citizens.   Yet as low income families struggle to put food on the table, self-storage facilities are booming because middle class Americans buy so many things they do not need or use and must find a place to put it all.  Does this seem right?

No comments: