The academic scholarship award winner will be announced tonight, and I wanted to share my essay with you! I worked quite hard on it and I’m really pleased with how it turned out, so I thought it would be cool to post it in a blog post. Enjoy!

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What do you consider to be the single most important societal problem? Why?

Society has its fair share of issues, making it incredibly difficult to decide which is the most important. Childhood obesity, the treatment of other races, and the replacement of real conversation with technology are three very prevalent problems in society today. However, there is one problem that is quite possibly the most important and widespread, and that is poverty and the blind eye that the public turns towards it. Many people subscribe to the belief that because they cannot see the problem in person, it is not a huge issue and there is nothing that they can do about it. This belief is completely false – at least 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day, meaning that a vast portion of the human population is living in poverty. In addition, poverty is a problem that not only exists in third-world areas, but is also something that is present in first-world society. The incredibly widespread nature of this issue makes it the most important, and biggest, societal problem today.

UNICEF states that 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. These children are living in some of the poorest, most secluded villages on earth, meaning that these deaths are away from the public eye. A major contributor to first-world society’s general lack of knowledge about poverty is due to the fact that a large portion of it is secluded, away from the media, the public, and the population’s thoughts. Poverty is extremely present in third world countries across the world, specifically Africa, South Asia, and parts of Latin America. A huge portion of the world is impoverished, and a majority of the world’s wealth is concentrated in a very small portion of the population. In fact, three-quarters of the world’s income is distributed within the wealthiest twenty percent of humans. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow larger, meaning that the wealthy are getting wealthier and the poor are getting poorer.

Though a large portion of the world’s poverty is located in third world countries, it is also an important issue within North American society. In 2012, over 870,000 Canadians used food banks each month, which is the highest recorded number ever. In addition, between 150,000 and 300,000 Canadians are “visibly” homeless, meaning they are living on the street or in drop-in centers. In 2010, 15 percent of Americans were classified as living in poverty. So while this issue may seem as though it is only concentrated in third world countries, this is not the case. Poverty is present everywhere, though the severity of it can vary country by country. A majority of people living in North America at first associate the concept of poverty with areas like Africa and South Asia, but all it takes is a quick trip to a homeless shelter to see that this is completely false. Homelessness due to poverty is an extremely important problem in societies around the world, especially in places like Calgary and Edmonton where winters can reach extremely low temperatures.

While the concept of poverty is the main issue at hand, the lack of public awareness regarding it is another problem in and of itself. Many believe that because they have not experienced poverty first-hand, they cannot do anything to help. However, there are numerous options available to anyone. Simply donating or volunteering at a local food bank or drop-in center requires very little time commitment and can be extremely beneficial to those in need. Many people benefitting from soup kitchens and charities are incredibly grateful for what they are receiving, and some have very intriguing stories to tell. Holding a fundraiser for a local or national charity, like Free the Children or World Vision, is also an option, both to raise awareness of this societal issue and to contribute funds towards it. If all else fails, there are numerous organizations today that bring groups of people from North America into countries suffering from extreme poverty, including Live Different and Me to We. While it may seem as though the problem is too vast to tackle, this is not the case. Any level of involvement can help, little by little, to reduce the impact of poverty on society.

Of all of the problems that are present in modern day society, there is one that is the most prevalent, and that is poverty. Its worldwide presence, its impact on such a large percentage of the human population, and the blind eye that first-world society in general has turned on it make it the most important societal issue at the moment. By recognizing the problem, becoming educated about it, and taking steps to eradicate it, such as volunteering locally and working internationally, society could drastically reduce the number of impoverished individuals and improve the future for those in need.

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Written by: Gillian Tagged with:, , , , , , , ,

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