By CHRIS CHAE
I must hate the homeless. That’s the conclusion I reached last Friday.
I was walking out of Mrs. Fitz’ room to go grab my English Journal from my locker when I saw a poster for the canned food drive. I stopped and looked at it.
Admittedly, the poster was not that well made. It was clear there was not enough time and effort put into a poster that had one measly drawing with little color in the middle, the date next to it haphazard. Already, the poster alone reflected the apathetic attitude behind what was supposed to be an honorable cause. But it still caught my attention. The drive was ending November 1, and I thought about buying canned food to donate.
But just as quickly as that though arose, another thought did as well. This one quickly overpowered my altruistic emotions with the negative ideas of, “But it’s so much effort to go to the store…someone else will probably buy enough cans…I don’t have that much money to spend anyway.”
Excuse after excuse, my mind created different reasons to not participate in the canned food drive, and I felt disgusting. In that moment, I became the scum of the earth. I was appalled by my natural disposition to overlook the needs of others because of the minor inconvenience that it would cause me. I thought to myself, who am I to act so high and mighty just from the luck of being born into a well-off family in an affluent neighborhood, none of which was due to my own efforts? I detested my thoughts that chose to forcefully ignore the desperate pleas of those in need and the efforts by my community to help them.
That night I drove to Rite Aid, bought some canned almonds, and dropped them off at the Comedy Sportz match, before rushing off to a club activity. Those few cans of food do not redeem myself and my twisted mind, but they are a start.
There are reasons why many students do not participate in charitable activities such as the canned food drive. None of them are valid.
You say you have no time. You do. Yes, many of you do excessive extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs- this is UHS after all. Yes, many of you spend too much time studying rather than enjoy your youth. But it hardly takes any time or effort to stop by a store. If you sacrifice a minuscule amount of time playing video games or uselessly scrolling through Instagram, you will definitely have time to spare. It will take a maximum of twenty minutes out of one day of your life to go to the nearest store and buy a few cans of food. Do not let your lazy mind persuade you into indifference.
You say you have no money. You do. A can of almonds costs around three dollars at Rite Aid. For the majority of this school that drinks Cha for Tea every other hour, you can buy at least one can of food while you’re at it. If you argue that it’s your parents money, bring me a parent that will disparage their child for wanting to donate food to those less fortunate. I dare you. For those who are financially struggling, it doesn’t take any money to talk to a friend and spread awareness. I urge each student to donate personally to those who are struggling and encourage their friends to do so as well. If those at the top ignore and choose not to understand the problems of the bottom, and those at the bottom do not try to help others like them, the world will become a very sad, broken, and scary place to live.
You say someone else’s donation will compensate for your own. It won’t. Every can counts. Every action, small or big, makes a difference. For those with almost everything they need – be it food, friends, comfort, or fun – a small can of almonds may mean nothing: just another can that will be stored in the pantry with all the others. But for the people without access to those conveniences, that can of almonds can be a saving grace. Not only will it fill empty stomachs, but it will also fill the empty hearts, sharing the hope that there are people who care about them and will support them through this time of need. Don’t shirk your responsibilities as a decent human. Instead, rise up to the moment.
As I read that poster and reflected on my terrible thoughts, I wondered if anyone else thought the way I did. I wondered if others also thought about donating, only to convince themselves not to, and if they had excuses similar to my own. I wonder if some people just walked by those posters, those Instagram posts, not giving a care or second thought about others because people really only see what they want to see. If this is you, I hope my reflection on my actions will inspire you to improve your own. If this isn’t you, if you are one of those who took initiative, went out and bought canned food to donate, I apologize. This article is my “sorry” for my selfish thoughts, my lack of awareness, and lack of heart.
But really, how much must we all hate the homeless. To return home at the end of every night. To warmth, to family, to food on the table. We live with having almost everything we need. I’m not talking about college education or that new trend or iPhone that you may want but do not have. I’m talking about basic human needs: appiness, hope, love. How indifferent must I be to neglect the needs of other human beings just because that small effort is too much? How selfish must I be to not care about anything else that does not benefit me? For the many who live a life lacking emotional support, I am sorry. I am sorry that I think only selfish thoughts without caring for those who do not have the same privileges. I am sorry that I hate you so much that I cannot even spare thoughts, much less money and actions. I hate myself for it too, believe me.
I am a firm believer in putting yourself as your first priority. It makes sense: if you cannot love yourself, how are you to know how to love other people? But for those who do love themselves, who do support themselves, let’s live a little bit bigger. Don’t let laziness and mental weakness prevent you from acting for the greater good. We are the next leaders of the world, the generation to save the planet from indifference and suffering. Let’s open our minds and our hearts to those in need. Let’s help each other out, let’s live as humans. Let’s live and give a life of love.