The 1st 3rd World City in the US

Rachel

Rachel and friends at PATH – People Assisting the Homeless

The sunshine of fame and glamor glares into our eyes, blinding us from the truth; as we put on our sunglasses, the sunshine disappears, and we are able to focus. What Magazines, celebrity news channels, and gossip sites fail to recognize about this state, is the fact that Los Angeles, California  is the first third world city in the United States. Since when has choosing “who wore it best” mattered more than finding clothing for someone who is wearing rags? When did people start to become so neive that they ignored the internal issues within their own city, strolling past those without anything, because they are too distracted on possessing everything.

While walking down Skid Row with my fellow Young Judaeans, it was almost impossible at first not to look away; the line of tents curving down the sidewalks was appalling. It took more than a moment to accept the fact that someones life could possibly be reduced to six garbage bags, one outfit, and two meals a day- if they’re lucky. Despite these tear jerking realities, I was able to find a silver lining. Once I truly opened my eyes, I saw these “homeless people” as human beings. I heard jazz music leaving tents, dogs happily licking their owners cheeks, and completely diverse people coming together as one, as a community. More than seven people that slept on hard concrete the previous night had the energy to ask me how I was doing, wish me a happy holiday and bless me.

My point is not to condone homelessness, not in any sense. It is not okay, and it is not an option to ignore it any longer. If these people who have nothing can put aside their differences for a common cause, why can’t we? Today, on this trip,  I learned that it’s not necessary nor is it helpful to feel guilty for being privileged. It is, however, imperative that we stop turning away from what is “not pretty”. Use the resources you have to educate others on what makes you uncomfortable about situations of homelessness! Therefore, I am encouraging you, and my camp mates as well, to be fearless: it is time for a change, and I believe one hundred percent that we can make a difference.

~ Rachel Silberman – 11th Grade, High Bridge, NJ