Skip to main content

An article in the Washington Post online caught my eye recently.  The topic was the number of homeless children and teens enrolling in public schools across the United States.  Seems, for the 2011-2012 school year, there were over 1.1 million.  This is 10% more than the previous year and 72% more than before the 2008 recession.  And, the article pointed out, the 1.1 million figure is known to be an underestimate.

Beyond the obvious tragedy in these numbers, the thing which struck me is how much human potential we're throwing away.  Growing up homeless and likely underfed, these children and young people are unlikely to achieve their full intellectual potential.  Some may overcome their cruel start to become productive members of society but I think many more will succumb to apathy or anger.  Now and then, a genius may emerge from this crucible of poverty to do great things, but others of similar intellect will turn to activities which are detrimental to society.

Seems to me, investing in these young people, and thereby ensuring more of them turn their talents to good purposes, would be a far wiser choice than what we're doing today.  We're facing some pretty serious challenges as a society and I don't think we can so cavalierly discard our intellectual capital this way.  Who knows, properly nurtured, one of these kids might make some critical discovery which benefits us all.  The way we're treating them, it's almost like we're assuming that's not possible, as if we think intelligence, creativity, and inventiveness are only present in those of means.

Of course, we know better.  High intelligence doesn't necessarily translate into great wealth.  Nor is poverty a reliable indicator of low intelligence.  No class or strata of society has a monopoly on intelligence. History provides plenty of examples of high achievers who arose from humble beginnings and dolts born into money who contributed nothing or worse.

So why is the world's wealthiest nation willing to have so many of its children remain homeless?  Well, there are those of us who are appalled by the inhumanity and sheer wastefulness of what's going on and would see the problem fixed, but, so far at least, we are far outnumbered by those who are apparently okay with the status quo.

The situation brings to mind a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr:

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

Too many of those in positions of power and privilege in this country are infected with the plague of destructive selfishness and greed which has spread throughout American society.  Doing away with homelessness in this country would require them to give up some of the wealth they hold so dear and they aren't willing to do so.  As a nation, we have the resources to solve this shameful problem.  It's just that we choose not to.

It's not a lack of wealth which thwarts us. It's a lack of will.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site