The homeless child experiment. A response

I recently found this video on youtube, and am not quite sure how to respond to it. Yes, it’s showing some interesting and probably true sides of society’s ignorance towards homelessness, but it is also giving what I feel to be somewhat false information on (child) homelessness in the USA and subsequently the rich world. In the UK alone, there are 80,000 children that are homeless; they may not be as obviously homeless as in developing countries, but they are homeless nonetheless. Before writing my thoughts on the video, I want to say that these are my personal opinions and that, in case I begin to sound like a terrible person by criticizing a video like this, it is my goal in life to at least attempt to make the world a better place for at least one person. I want to do this by finding the best way possible; and that is only possible if I look very critically at existing ways of creating a brighter future.

Before I say any more, please take a couple of minutes to watch the video.

While it is quite interesting to see whether people do or do not give money to a seemingly homeless child in the USA, I think the way this study was carried out was slightly strange. Yes, it’s not an academic study, but I think youtube videos shouldn’t be underestimated. The number of people that have watched this video is huge, 2,367,659 at the time of writing this post. Much like journals written for the general public are taken very seriously, this video is taken as truth by many.

One woman brings up what I want to say: She says that there are 29 million beggars on the street, and that she has seen child beggars herself.

While it is quite hard to disagree with a video like this, I would like to say that it is terrible that, at the end of the day Fouseytube had collected only $2.10, but at the same time, I do not particularly like how he handled certain situations. I feel statements like: “in the third world” or “son of america” make this quite an egocentric piece of work. To me, it seems like this video is saying: there are beggars in the third world, but there aren’t any in the US, so let’s see what happens if I put a beggar in the streets of Los Angeles. Which, is an interesting concept (that was inspired by this video).

He wants to make a change in society, but how? He looks at who will give money, and in the end he calls us to give money to “help those in need”. He goes as far as saying the following:

“You see, we’re in a position where we are blessed enough to help those who are in need. We got shoes on our feet we got clothes on our back and we’ve got food to eat, we’ve got a roof over our head. What about the countries that don’t. What about the kids dying, the kids starving, the kids who don’t have anything and nobody to help or do anything for them.”

Personally, I have quite a problem with statements like this. Just because somebody lives in a world that is very different to the one we live in, it does not mean that they are livig in dire poverty and are sad and horrible. Yes, there may be some like that, but for that we do not have to go to the developing world.

I have travelled and lived in developing countries for almost my entire life. I have read many articles and books, discussed with academics the discussions of aid, and developing countries, reducing poverty. Aid is not the only option, it may not even be a good option. I still haven’t made my mind up about whether or not aid is doing more good than bad in the world. There are many problems that come along with giving money to the less fortunate. For one, it is making developing nations dependent on the rich states which may lead to a whole new way of colonization.

Also, I feel like Fouseytube has a very western-centric viewpoint that we must help those in need. That we, as the rich community, the ones who have EVERYTHING, should be giving to those who have NOTHING.

Let me just leave it here, that travelling through rural Nepal (the poorest area in one of the worlds poorest countries) was where I met some of the friendliest, most welcoming, and emotionally, culturally, personally rich people I have ever known.

I am all for finding ways of helping countries and people develop, but I am also for finding the best way of doing it, even if it means going against the current and writing posts like this.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am glad that people are trying to do good in the world…the world sure needs it! And I am glad that there are people like Fouseytube out there, who try to show the public how we react to certain problems and how we should change our attitudes. I just think we need to think twice about certain things we say, to reflect on what we are really saying and to not live with an attitude that says: I live in a rich world, there are no poor people here. Therefore I have to give money to those poor poor people in the poor countries so they can feed themselves.

The problems of poverty go a lot deeper than that, and giving someone money isn’t necessarily going to alleviate the poverty they live in.

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