The Importance of Looking at People as People

This past year, I have noticed how little people view other people as human beings. Instead, they just look at them as statistics and numbers, disregarding that they have feelings and emotions and that they matter. I saw this through the ICE raids and the detention camps, through the treatment of immigrants, through the words of those in power, and so many more examples that it made my heart feel heavy. But through all of these incidents, I thought that most people that I knew seemed to be on the same page and saw these as acts that were unforgivable. That changed when I started taking a social epidemiology class this semester.

   In my class, we discuss topics related to global health; after all, epidemiology looks at health and disease throughout the world. We’ve watched documentaries in that class and discussed different diseases and the stigmas behind them, showing examples of real people struggling with said diseases. In the discussions, I was shocked by the amount of people who don’t believe that good health is a basic human right. Many people thought that it was up to the individual to look after their own health and that any extra help should require money being paid. They looked at global health solely from the standpoint of how funding it would affect the US financially. They saw funding the US military as more important than public health.This is just one example of how disadvantaged people are being treated, thought about only from the viewpoint of their cost to the government rather than thinking about how their health problems are affecting them. But what about all those statistics that we read, describing people and their struggles? For example, consider the fact that 1.7% of people are intersex. Many people would look at this and think that it’s not a lot, and then disregard it. However, if you apply that statistic to the population, that means that almost 131 million people in the world are intersex, which is quite a lot. The statistic prevents us from seeing that each person has their own experiences that should be acknowledged.

It’s also alarming how few people actually care about the struggles of other people or what life is like for people who aren’t like them. They can read stories about people being mistreated because of who they are, or hear about them in the news, and only think of the effect on the economy or the impact on themselves personally. As humans we should be concerned for the wellbeing of people all around the world, regardless of if we know them or not.

People aren’t just numbers on a page that can be brushed off easily. They have feelings and opinions, they have families and people who care about them, and they are important. Even if you don’t share their struggles, it’s still important to empathize with them and do your part to help out, even if it is just acknowledging that they are there and have the struggle. Living life thinking only of your struggles is limiting and won’t let you grow as a person. When enough people recognize that other people have hardships, that can lead to change.

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