A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. –Mahatma Ghandi
here is a trait that is unique to us as a species, no matter where we were born, no matter our income, our talents or our skills. Humanity connects us all and is the foundation for all progress in our society. It’s principle is so simple that it’s easy to forget, it’s easy to discard humanity in favor of statistics, charts and graphs. We’ve been told for far too long that monetary value overshadowed the value of human life—and Chicago can be, will be, the city that remembers how skewed that reasoning really is. Whether it’s how we treat each other or how our government redistributes our tax dollars, we will be a city that leaves no one out in the cold.
No one wants to be poor. No one wants to be isolated, overlooked by the people who pass them in the street, struggling daily just to make it into tomorrow. In life, we are all struck hard blows—some more then others—and it is then that we look to our fellow people and ask them for a helping hand. A chain is only as strong as it’s links and to leave those people behind will break the bond of a society, the same bond that keeps us stable. The loss of a job, the illness of a loved one, or ourselves can change a person’s life forever, emotionally and fiscally, and send them into a life of poverty and addiction.Years ago, there were safety nets for those of us who struggled harder then others and an economy that offered work for whoever was willing—not today, not anymore.
The fight against poverty is not ours alone; our present leaders are directly responsible in offering solutions to those struggling with poverty. Their responsibility has become obscured as people have become less “ human” and more “credit score”, less “real “ and more a “statistic”. Chicago has fallen victim to this corporate-sense of morality, leaving thousands of people hungry and homeless, and we’re here to tell them that it’s wrong. We will no longer be the victims of their desperate attempt to bail themselves out of a debt crisis that they created, partnered with an inept Governor and arbitrary cuts that hurt only us.
In 2017, the state cut 21% and 26% from the addictions and mental health contracts issued to community providers from state revenue funds. This resource-specific money was diverted into the general Medicaid fund, which has no oversight and no ability to track where the money is being used. We have often found that those struggling with mental illness and addiction, the small number that attend clinics, often do not have insurance—rendering the Medicaid fund meaningless to them. They were abandoned.
Those who do use Medicaid are often working class people whose employment doesn’t offer them adequate insurance so they turn to the state for help. Unwilling to cut into their own profits, corporations have ensured that we live a life stealing from the poor to give to the working poor, a perverse Robin Hood of the modern American way.
Meanwhile, our neighbors and our homes fall apart around us. Uptown, along with many other communities in Chicago, have already bared witness to the demolishment of low cost housing in favor of expensive condos.
Instead of corporate tax cuts and free land for every developer looking to make another million, we need to stand up to help the neediest in our community to come out of the shadows. To help remind them that they, like us, are only human and every human needs a helping hand sometimes, and that everyone deserves a place to live. Without equivocation that this is the responsibility of any civilized nation.