Being poor, I imagine, is no fun in any country but nothing could be worse than being poor in the USA. In this land of excess, where alongside neat, little houses with perfectly manicured lawns is parked a boat bigger than the house itself not to mention the two motorcycles and 3 cars, being poor must be really hurt like hell. The streets of Manhattan teem with angelic waifs floating away in the trendiest of boutique fashion, but also on the sidewalks sit broken men and women, with tattered clothes and placards begging for food. The same wind which blows astray the strands of hair on the face of the pretty fur-coat clad girls sashaying down New York's shopping districts also seeps its cold fingers past the ineffectual newspaper stuffing that the homeless use in an desperate attempt to sustain their morbid existence. And now and then, when old enough and tired of the pointless exercise, they just lay down and die out on the cold stone pavements or in the meagre shelter of a trash lined alley.
It's easy to label them as inefficient and lazy in a country where every person had supposedly equal rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happpiness". The homeless, as the desperately poor in the US are euphemistically called, may be all that they are accused of and more, but I find that their condition invokes an unique emotion in me, a mixture of pity and horror. Pity because no human being deserves to be in a condition like this, where they move from shelter to shelter or street to street scrounging for their next meal like street dogs back in India, shivering away the last bits of their miserable lives. Horror because they represent the human spirit in what is its most terrifying broken down manifestation.
There are a lot of charities though which do the praiseworthy job of finding these people shelters, their children foster homes and give them food so that they don't starve to death. Despite all of that, one thing is chillingly clear. These are people who have dropped completely out of the race to make something of their lives, from whose hearts the last birds of hope have flown away leaving it in a permanently bleak winter. Some of them may have lost out due to their total lack of ability but there are some who are there due to their inability to run fast enough or being unable to muster the will to dust themselves up after one of life's many pushes sent them crashing out of the race. They are the forgotten people, no-hopers who stand aside wheezing and looking on in blank resignation, surviving solely on the wayward scraps that the running hordes toss their way until one day the scraps run out.