It is about time advertising budgets grew to the meet the burgeoning poverty problem embracing the world. Governments may change, the economy may fluctuate, but it seems that little changes in terms of the struggles that millions face every day. Poverty is a serious issue, with half the world’s population judged by the World Bank as living in moderate poverty.
This is life-size, and unavoidable. It’s a sad fact that as privileged individuals (and yes, if you’re sitting on the internet right now, to an extent, you have privilege) we too easily avoid facing the ills that plague our society. It has become too easy for us to walk by the panhandlers, too easy to change the channel on World Vision ads, and too easy to pretend that everyone is nestled in the same cocoon that we are. I am guilty of this as anyone, but I don’t think I could wait for my bus everyday next to this, and not be affected. As the new president told us this week, “We can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders…”
The world has been pre-occupied with the many pressing concerns that emerged in the past decade – significant, pressing concerns – but the rise of new issues has trumped the ones that have existed all through history. The housing crisis is worrying, of course, but as Fondation Abbe Pierre have pointed out, homelessness is even more worrying. The economic downturn and security concerns plaguing the Western world has enabled us to forget about the primary needs of humanity – which according to the United Nations, includes the right to shelter. But these images, which are dark, grimy, and starkly realistic, serve as a potent reminder.
The sheer magnitude of this campaign has the ingredients to shock people out of their impasse. Fondation Abbe Pierre is a reputable society, who is doing something about these issues. Because, it’s true, the size of a parking space, a bus shelter or a billboard is incomprehensible as a living space for a family. I think I am finally starting to remember these issues, and hopefully, under new leadership, America is also. We can only hope, through organisations such as these, the rest of the world will be soon to follow.