Orwell grew up in an era when the underclass in his society and inhabitants who belonged to his colonial empire were feared and loathed. He, therefore, took it upon himself to discover what these people went through and what their life experience was. In Marrakech, Orwell tells of his experience in Morocco. He served as a British official there in the colonial era.
What members of our society are invisible? Explain.
Orwell clearly portrays the lack of homogeneity in this European colonial space. The population comprises of a Muslim majority, a small European community and a Jewish minority with Senegalese soldiers as the disciplinary body. According to Orwell, there is a deplorable mediocrity and passiveness amongst the natives that leads to a divided, hierarchical society. The small number of Europeans in Marrakech makes the natives live in subaltern conditions. They were invisible as human beings that Orwell equated them to insects. Orwell remembers an instance when an employee of the municipality is hungry and asks him to give him some bread. The Jewish elders beg Orwell to give them a cigarette. In another incident, Orwell gives a coin to a woman carrying a load of wood. She reacts with a wail and a scream as neither her nor anybody in the society would expect such a kind act. At this point, Orwell makes it clear that seeing the invisible members of the society was almost like a violation of a law of nature (Orwell).
In all these cases, the invisible members of the society are the poor people. Poverty reduces them to a state that they can hardly have any pride or dignity. The man borrowing the bread and those borrowing cigarettes all thought of those commodities as belonging to the rich. To them, these commodities were a reserve of people with high social standings, in this case, the small European community. Most of the natives in Marrakech owned nothing except the rags that they wore. It is also clear that those who do hard, manual work are invisible, and most are the times their efforts go unappreciated or even unnoticed. The woman carrying the load of woods screamed with surprise when a European noticed how hard she was working. The old are also a part of the invisible members of the society. It took several weeks for Orwell to notice how old women carried firewood yet he had noticed the Moroccan donkey.
In our modern world, the most invisible group of people is the homeless. They live on the street. Most of them have picked habits such as substance abuse, prostitution, stealing or drug trafficking to be able to fend for them. The rest of the society rarely remembers them. When we see people on the street we all think they are out of their homes running errands. But in reality, the street is home to some people we come across daily. Sometimes, we identify them when they ask for help. For instance, a homeless child or an elderly person may ask for food or money to spend. They become invisible for most of us cannot relate to lacking a home or lacking family that would take us in. They live a dangerous lifestyle, one that is full of struggle.
What are the reasons?
Inflexible culture and religious beliefs made the natives of Marrakech invisible. This made them idle and superstitious. It made them oblivious of impoverished society they had created for themselves. The patriarchal society lacked creativity and a revolutionary spirit that was needed to take Marrakech natives out of the invisibleness.
Homelessness can be as a result of unemployment. This means lack of a stable income to raise rent or even buy basic necessities. This has led to entire middle-class families becoming homeless despite them being industrious and hard-working. Poverty has rendered many people homeless with some being too poor to even afford a meal. Lack of descent affordable housing is a leading cause of homelessness. With the world becoming more capitalistic, people with money problems become more invisible with each day. Some were rendered homeless when the government applies domain laws to appropriate private property. They destroy homes on behalf of the rich who then develop the land. Relocation programs usually fail due to one problem or the other.
What are the consequences?
As long as one is a member of the invisible members of society, they are, most likely to suffer from generalizations and stereotyping. Homelessness exposes people to danger and insecurity. They have to guard the little they own safely. Though most have a floor, a corner or an abandoned place where they stay, the state they live in is deplorable. The general public also makes an ideology of the homeless being criminals which reinforces stereotypes. This situation only victimizes them. They are invisible as long as they reside in the homeless shelters. There is lack of public awareness. With all the challenges they face, most homeless people spend their lives in hospitals and their circumstances denies them an equal opportunity to advance in life. The society should not be close-minded about homelessness. Our policies should also protect the rights of the homeless. We should ensure that we improve their quality of life. The biggest consequence of being an invisible member of the society is that one is not able to live a fulfilled quality of life. As in Orwells article, these members live miserably with little or no dignity at all. We should offer our companionship to them in the spirit of humanity.
Orwell, George. "Why I Write" The Penguin Essay of George Orwell. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984.
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