The greatest danger of today’s media is not fake news, but rather, incomplete news.
For example, let us look at homeless people in America and what you, and almost all of us, perceive as being the problem.
Most people envision the homeless people as living on the street, dirty, dishevelled, begging for money or stealing so they can pay for their next fix or drink. We imagine, or sometimes witness firsthand, individuals staggering down back alleys in the middle of the day, looking for a cardboard box to crawl into at night.
This is the image the media has shown us on television, it’s in our daily papers, and it is the image politicians give us when they campaign every four years.
The Whole Story
In actual fact, the image in your mind represents only one-quarter of our homeless population. Some of those people became homeless due to their addictions, and some became addicted as a way to cope after they became homeless and gave up hope.
In reality, we know:
- 75% of homeless people do not suffer from substance abuse.
- 1 in 30 children are homeless in any given year.
- 22% of the homeless are under the age of 18.
- 9% are age 19 to 34 yrs.
- Families with children represent 36% of the homeless.
- Veterans are the most likely people to become homeless.
What causes homelessness? Here is a list of the top causes of homelessness:
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Low wages and unemployment.
- Mental health issues.
- Substance abuse.
Many people who are homeless are actually working, often more than one job. You see them in fast food restaurants, clerking at your local grocery store, or volunteering at a local charity. That waiter with the nice smile who served you last Saturday well may be living out of his car.
Many homeless people are contributing members of our society simply unable to find affordable housing for themselves or perhaps their family.
Many homeless people are youth (under 18) still going to school and sleeping in an abandoned car hidden on the outskirts of town. Many are mothers with children, squeezed into an abandoned RV’s with no electricity or water.
Few homeless people are transient. Most live in and have been living in their community for many years.
Homelessness, like so many other things going on in this world, is seldom what we have been led to believe it is.
Incomplete knowledge about a problem, any problem, be it terrorism, Muslims, a specific religion, or the police, leads to stigmas being attached to people and eventually to bigotry and racial profiling.
“An informed society is an empowered society. An ignorant society are sheep being led to the slaughter.” –B. Norwood
If we leave it solely up to the media to keep us informed, be it social media or the institutional media of print and television, we are doomed by our own beliefs.
What do you do to make sure you are fully informed about an issue before you form a solid opinion?
How do you protect yourself from taking action with only half-truth, blinded by someone else’s hidden agenda?
If you are passionate about something, you owe it to yourself and to society to make sure you are well informed with a clear perspective and a balanced opinion on the subject.
Feature photo by Fran UrbanoShare this: