A well-functioning society consists of well-functioning people. Well-functioning, in most peoples’ eyes, means being a part of the literate population, but for those who aren’t a literate person does this mean that they are not a part of society? When I think of literate people, I think of the normal person I walk by every day. The students I pass in the halls and sit next to in class are all part of the literate population. Most days I don’t think of the illiterate population, which is also the case for most other literate people in our society. But what would happen if we, the literate population, did think about those suffering from illiteracy?
Think of ways we could help illiterate people. It’s as easy as reading a sign for them or the back of a box of cereal. Helping an illiterate person only takes a few minutes out of our day, but the help is very seldom seen in our society. It may not be easy to just spot someone in a grocery store that is struggling to read a label, but think of how hard it is for an illiterate person to walk up to someone and ask for help reading the ingredients on a box of cereal. Not only would it be hard for them to build up the courage to ask for help, but they would also have the fear of embarrassment or getting shut down.
Thinking back to a few months ago, I remember an interesting trip to the grocery store. My mom had called me on my way home from school and asked me to pick up a few groceries for dinner that night. As I walked down the aisles, trying to remember all the things I had to buy, I came across a young woman with a young child in the cart. She had a blank stare on her face as she looked at the numerous shelves of cough suppressants. The thought of her literacy, or lack of it, did not cross my mind. I brushed by her quickly to grab a bottle of Aspirin. As I walked further down the aisle, I heard a quiet, “Excuse me Miss.” I abruptly turned around to see the woman waving me towards her.
She needed help; her husband was home sick from work and he was their only source of income. Their family needed him to return to work, but he was not allowed to work until his symptoms had cleared. I asked her what his symptoms were and quickly took to the shelves, looking for medicines that caught my eye. Looking thought all the different brands and what they treated, I began to feel a sense of frustration. I thought to myself, “How is anyone supposed to figure out the right medicine for each symptom?” Finally finding a few that I felt would be adequate, I showed the woman her options. She took a minute to look at the bottles I was holding, looked up at me for a quick second, and then immediately back down. Needing to get on my way home, I suggested she buy the generic Flu Relief because it would save her a few dollars. With little thought, she grabbed the bottle...