How Privileged Am I…?

From Alternative Winter Break participant Aodhan Lyons of Tuscon, AZ

awb_la5As wonderful and profound as it is to see a child’s smile, it is nothing compared to seeing the second part of the trip today. Going through the wealthy and simply rich portions of L.A. was stunning, beautiful, and absolutely downright painful. Every street corner had someone on it, who was homeless, or simply needed help of some kind. I wish I could have given to all of them, but there was only one of me, with just two 20’s in my pocket. My brother had been asking for change for one of his 20’s two days prior, and was laughed at by one of the men at PATH, People Assisting The Homeless, for having a twenty on him in the first place. How privileged am I to have that much money on my person?

One man had a cardboard sign in front of him that said something along the lines of: “imagine if you were in my shoes; you would want help too.” It struck my heart. How was it that people who could be so wealthy, and absolutely full of their own money, could ignore the pleas of the helpless surrounding them. There was no other way to describe this striking experience aside from just using one single word: hurtful.

There were people littering the streets of that gilded walk down the road of stars, with costumes of many kinds depicting famous figures. People laughed, and took pictures with them. It would be a lie to say I didn’t cry a little bit. They merely needed the money, and were probably degraded to costumes of people I’m sure they wanted to be; superheroes, movie stars, and the general rich public. There were at least six Spidermen along the way, blowing animal balloons, or just standing there. As my group walked by, imitating some web-slinging along the way, I couldn’t help but feel one thing: hurt. The work that AWB has been doing so far has been just a start to helping the people in need, almost hidden between the “land of fame and music” and “the happiest place on earth”.