Something that really drives me nuts is how, in the name of politics and social engineering, even our virtual social engineering on the internet, there lurks this meme that the solution of all of what ails us culturally and socially, is more education and a reduction in poverty.
This stuff makes me crazy. Why do crimes occur? A lack of education and poverty. Why does rape happen? We must teach uneducated men not to rape. Why do terrorists hate us? They lack job training and the resources they need for success.
Many people don’t realize how elitist these things sound, how very demeaning and shaming they are towards the poor. It is a clearly implied message that not having wealth automatically renders one ignorant, somewhat uncivilized, and prone to criminality. No doubt starvation will do that, the desperation of 3rd world poverty can create that scenario, but in the US? No, in fact the precise opposite. The poor are no more immoral than the well off.
Trust me, there’s a whole lot of sin going on behind closed doors, insulated and defended by wealth, political connections, and social hierarchies. Money will cover up a whole lot of stoopid, but it’s only a cover up. Human nature is what it is and wealth or education does not wash it away.
So this idea that we must teach uneducated men not to rape, really annoyed me, because it completely denies and erases the truth of social hierarchies and how they work. So a rapist is perceived as a slobbering stranger in the bushes, someone poor, desperate, and uneducated, and therefore immoral. However, the precise same behavior in someone like Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, etc, etc, is covered up and denied for decades. Or indefinitely. Wealth and education does indeed “fix the problem,” but only in terms of how we perceive the problem. The problem continues to exist, it has just been draped with a more civilized looking paper towel, disguising the mess underneath.
Morality than becomes more about who you are and who you know, rather than what you’ve actually done.
Needless to say, this is just a lamentation, a rant. I cannot stop the endless shaming of the poor, nor soften the very elitist perception that poverty is the root of all evil, but I do see the toll it takes on those on the ground, those who struggle. I do see how many of those who claim to care so, so, much about the poor, also tend to perceive us stupid, as having made bad choices, uneducated, and in need of a savior, an elitist, a politician, who knows how to fix it.
A Savior? You don’t say? Well, I just happen to know One, the very best One actually, One who knows how to cut to the chase and get to the bottom of things 😉
So there’s this thing called human dignity, where you perceive people as capable and able to find their own answers, where rather than identifying what is broken within them, you point them towards the solutions that may assist them. You empower them, you lift them up, encourage them. Some unfortunately, like the previously mentioned rapist, you must knock down, reign in, contain, so they don’t do harm. That ship done sailed, but what we should not do is act as if these immoral acts are simply the result of poverty or a lack of education, because that presents a false perception, attempts to apply the wrong cause and effect, prescribes the wrong solution, and greatly offends the innocent.
Along with poverty often comes a poverty of spirit, not the good kind, but the kind that comes from being beat down and shamed for so long, that a kind of learned helplessness just settles in. An emptiness. You cannot win the battle so why bother trying to fight it anymore? When we shame the poor, by claiming people just need more education, more wealth, the ability to make better choices, to improve their “morality,” we simply lay more weight upon their shoulders, false weight, unjust weight. We make people poorer, in mind, body, and spirit.
Human systems are complex, the things that ail us are vast and interconnected, entwined in cause and effect, existing in symbiosis with other things in the world. One thing I am absolutely certain of, education and wealth does not wash away sin and poverty is not the root of all evil.