You Can’t Fix a Problem by Denying It Exists

Ruby Payne’s work on effectively interfacing with and helping students from the lower income levels has brought the expected howls of indignation from her colleagues.  But the truth is that this is the absolutely most explosive issue in the U.S. today, which is why no one wants to discuss it.

Let’s look at this from both sides.

The U.S. is supposed to be the place where "anyone" can start out "anywhere" and be successful.  It is ingrained in our national psyche.  The fact that class differences exist is an offence to this idea.  That’s reason #1 why people don’t want to discuss it.

For those in the lower income strata, this reason #1 induces shame.  It implies that they either have done something wrong or are "bad" people who can’t make it.  So they don’t want to think about it.  It used to be that churches provided some solace from this.  They could say that those who followed Jesus were going to heaven while those of a more worldly bent weren’t, so the inequities in this life would be reversed in eternity:

There was once a rich man, who dressed in purple robes and fine linen, and feasted every day in great splendor. Near his gateway there had been laid a beggar named Lazarus, who was covered with sores, And who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the very dogs came and licked his sores. After a time the beggar died, and was taken by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In the Place of Death he looked up in his torment, and saw Abraham at a distance and Lazarus at his side. So he called out ‘Pity me, Father Abraham, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering agony in this flame.’ ‘Child,’ answered Abraham, ‘remember that you in your lifetime received what you thought desirable, just as Lazarus received what was not desirable; but now he has his consolation here, while you are suffering agony. And not only that, but between you and us there lies a great chasm, so that those who wish to pass from here to you cannot, nor can they cross from there to us.’ ‘Then, Father,’ he said, ‘I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house– For I have five brothers to warn them, so that they may not come to this place of torture also.’ ‘They have the writings of Moses and the Prophets,’ replied Abraham; ‘let them listen to them.’ ‘But, Father Abraham,’ he urged, ‘if some one from the dead were to go to them, they would repent.’ ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,’ answered Abraham, ‘they will not be persuaded, even if some one were to rise from the dead.’" (Luke 16:19-31)

But now we have prosperity teaching, so we don’t talk about that any more.

On the other end, liberals talk about restructuring society so that people who start out with disadvantages can make it.  But experience teaches that people at the top know that they could not make it if such a society was in place.  So they continue to send their children to the best schools and dispense social programs that they think will work.  But they are so far out of touch with the "other half" that they really don’t know what it will take.  The result is what we have, i.e., the left continues to push trendy causes and the gap between the top and the bottom continues to grow.

Ruby Payne doesn’t need "New Age" inspiration to see that what she proposes has good truth content.  Anyone who has made their life’s adventure to travel the longest trip in America–up and down the social ladder–can discern the veracity of what she says.  Boomers would rather travel to exotic places around the world than to explore unknown places in their own society.  But Boomers are a hard bunch to teach anything, which is why they really don’t understand either.

It’s time to acknowledge the existence of this problem and face it forthrightly.

Leave a Reply