Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week brings reality to the forefront of the sometimes sheltered University consciousness by presenting tangible evidence of poverty. Its timing evokes a genuine introspective reaction, as it falls just before Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, times traditionally representative of plentitude.
The capitalist society under which we operate is founded on the acquisition and exchange of goods, which fundamentally implies a surplus, a more-than-enough.
Yet, the truth of the matter is that this surplus is disproportionate in reality, as millions live without even the requisite means to get by. We must look to Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and be grateful for the basic necessities we possess and then be doubly appreciative of everything beyond these essential goods.
The University culture perpetuates a thoughtless opportunism of exercising our relative advantages. By living in such an affluent area, we often take for granted our innate privileges.
We are free to drive down the street for a latte or a top-dollar, gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, while countless others devote entire paychecks to providing meager meals for their families. We live the campus life, between melodic tolls of the church’s bells, in eager anticipation of our bright futures, while millions live day to day with literally nothing of their own.
Nevertheless, the problems of hunger and homelessness cannot be simply remediated by awareness. Poverty as a whole must be recognized and met with concerted human action for any progress to be made.
University students play their part in the equation through involvement in volunteer groups and service break experiences, whereby they forego privilege to live simply and help others in need. These temporary actions, however, are mere steps in the process of changing the conditions which produce inequality. What is needed is a lifelong commitment to action as well as awareness.