The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Home of the Brave

America is often recognized as a land of promise, as a place where every man is entitled to the pursuit of happiness. How is it, then, that people are supposed to reap the benefits of this fine nation, if we as citizens are so consumed with the classification of our fellow Americans?
Though the evolution of race relations is something that we pride ourselves on, discrimination exists everywhere around us. Race relations have always been shaky in this country, from Japanese internment and segregation (not to mention slavery), to the present-day treatment of Middle-Easterns in America. We are afflicted by the habit of taking one person as representative of the whole. All men are supposed equals in America, and yet, there is always a second class of citizens. Forget history, even looking at modern day America, one can find an array of second-class citizens, breathing our same air. It can definitely be argued that felons deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, as they have violated the code that accompanies citizenship, but what crimes have the homeless committed against society?
The homeless men, women, and children of America are marginalized and kept out of the minds of most of their fellow citizens. Though we see them every day, there is a certain stigma attached to them and their condition, which perpetuates their status as second-class citizens. We feel like homelessness could never happen to us, but the reality is that most are merely one addiction or one misstep away from a similar fate. It’s important to remember that homeless people (or the majority of them, at least) were not born that way. Many are veterans who came home only to be shut out and left out in the cold, literally. Some were professionals, some have college degrees; they are people just like us. There is nothing innate within them that distinguishes them from billionaires, pro athletes, and college professors. So why are they treated like lepers?
People are so quick to classify others in relation to their own social standing. Why does it help us to note that we are better off than someone else? It’s beyond “keeping up with the Jones’”; Americans are often looking to one-up each other. And to what avail? So many crimes committed against fellow humans mar our claim as a free country with liberty and justice for all. We dehumanize those who threaten our sense of security; we take away their rights to fortify our own. In some cases, as in the instance of criminals, incarcerating them protects innocents and reinforces our rights as citizens, but that’s a different discussion. What threat to our happiness and security does homelessness impose? Those who have fallen into hard luck do not deserve to be outcast and ostracized from a society to which they once belonged. I challenge you, now, to look a homeless man in the eye when you pass him on the street. Say hello, ask how his day is going. I challenge you to sit down and converse with a homeless man, and tell me why you are better than him.

-Kelsey Laubscher


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