As you walk down the street, you see an older gentleman shuffling along. His steps are no more than 12 centimetres long; his shoulders are slumped and an expression of defeat lines his face.
Nobody pays him any attention.
A young girl, wanting to be called a woman, obviously inebriated, staggers along bumping into almost every post she comes close to. Nobody knows what brought her to this point; moreover, no one wants to approach a drunk.
A man cruises from one car to another reduced to begging for a little cash. People hate it when he approaches them. Coddled by his now deceased mother, he has never been able to come to grips with having to do for himself, and drugs have not helped.
A person in a wheelchair, shabbily dressed, moves slowly and painfully along the sidewalk, barely raising her eyes to look at people passing by, afraid she would be criticized for being in such a state.
The sickness that put her there is not really obvious.
Two children with a young mother and a limping father attend a soup kitchen supper. They try to be upbeat, but employment for a physically handicapped person is hard to find, and minimum wage, part-time work does not put a lot of food on the table.
And so the list goes on; the number of different stories is tied to the number of folks you look at.
That many of these are, in our eyes, obviously downtrodden, goes without saying, but there are many who fit that category who are not apparent at all.
Let me lay out a scenario for you and see if you can relate.
Spurned and sometimes ridiculed by the younger generation, a couple in their senior years struggle to understand the fast-paced changes in our society.
For 50 years, they worked their buns off just to make ends meet, faith having been their only encouragement as they raised their family — only to be rejected by a newly influenced society for their stand. Society passes them by without so much as a thought.
A group of confused students — a captive audience to an education system that does its best to convince them that life really has no purpose other than trying to convince themselves that they are doing well. With no absolutes to hold on to, they can have difficulty making important life choices.
A group of citizens already trying to cope under constant assault by a commercial world trying to extract every penny they have through lustful advertising, as well as dealing with a government that tells them how to think and legislating against any help they require to deal with some choices they made in the past.
So you see, being downtrodden is not limited or restricted to those addicted or on the street.
It goes beyond those who through poor choices have lost everything, and can’t seem to get back up because of a mental condition, or even just extreme discouragement.
So I define downtrodden as anything that leaves a person rejected by the mainstream of society.
What we are seeing is a segment of society, attacked by even their own government, which has been threatened with loss of their seats by lobby groups that push their own agenda. It almost seems as if this country is being legislated into a lifestyle they are uncomfortable with or feel is wrong.
Plus, any challenge to these changes, in some cases, now carries a penalty by law, and that ends freedom of speech.
Until such time as society accepts those who wish to challenge these changes through dialogue, we will always have those among us who feel totally out of place, thereby answering the question: who are the downtrodden?
Chris Salomons is a retired senior citizen with a concern for the downtrodden.