Wednesday, October 15, 2008

U.S. Poverty Should Be Primary Focus

I am and always have been a strong believer that countries should mind their own business in most cases. Don't mingle. Don't get involved in civil wars between rival sects of a radical religion. Don't overthrow governments. Don't send our resources elsewhere when we need them. Yeah, that's right, I said it — be stingy, be greedy, think about yourself first.

Today is Blog Action Day, and thousands of bloggers around the world are blogging about this year's topic — poverty — on this very day, Oct. 15, 2008.

I chose to go along with the usual personal, heavily opinionated type of blog post you normally see from me on Relatively Journalizing. And I think that if we have excess we have a responsibility to help those in other countries. However, I don't think we should do so until we take care of our own. Would you let your own children starve to send food to starving children in Africa. No, of course not, but that's what the United States of America has a long history of doing.

So look, it's not likely you'll be able to change the government's mind. After all, America has this so-called great image to keep up. What I think is important about blogging about poverty today is that the U.S. poverty rate is at 12.5 percent. So for roughly every 13th person you see on the street each day, that's one person living in poverty! To me, that's still too many people in a land of dreams and prosperity.

There are 37.3 million people (according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data) living in poverty around us all over the country. So, before we get too sympathetic about those kids on TV, let's think about the kids next door. There are so many ways you can help, and the holidays are getting closer as well, meaning many families are going to need food, warm coats and maybe some presents to light up their lives this holiday season. Many just can't afford these things, especially with the terrible state of the U.S. economy right.

So here's what I'd like you to do: contact your nearest newspaper and ask for the nonprofit reporter. Or perhaps do a Google search of nonprofits in your area. Just find some groups in your area, read up on them, and determine which one you think might help those in poverty the most right now. Reach out to someone in your own community who is living in poverty, whether it's through donating to a food bank, giving away a jacket you never wear or making a monetary donation. Such a quick, small step can get us one instance closer to conquering American poverty and helping those who need it most — right under our noses.

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