[lit-ideas] Re: Didn't I tell you so?

  • From: Judith Evans <judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 15:26:30 +0100 (BST)

I forgot to add that the US is becoming less socially
mobile and also has greater extremes of inequality
than "Europe" -- Britain's going the way of the US.

--- John Wager <john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Eric Yost wrote:
> > . . .It's all very romantic to think the poor are
> noble, but after 
> > watching homeless drunks fight each other with
> lead pipes at 4 a.m., 
> > after watching the skankiest toothless hookers
> sizing me up for a 
> > manip or begging me for fix change, after
> witnessing closeup the 
> > extreme mental illness of the homeless, the sadism
> and brutality of 
> > the ignorant poor on a daily basis, you might sing
> a different song.
> >
> > Maybe the noble poor image fits with some pastoral
> Christ dream, but 
> > in the real heart of urban darkness, the poor are
> just part of a 
> > vision of demons. They eat themselves and then
> they eat your soul.
> "The rich are not like you or me, Scotty"  -- They
> have money.
> That seems to be, in my experience, the main
> difference.  Eric's story 
> is of the poorest of the poor; the homeless,
> addicted, alcoholic poor.  
> But according to U.S. official statistics,
> 37,000,000 people in the U.S. 
> live in "poverty." These people are not your addicts
> or hookers; they 
> are rural families trying to make a living, or
> mothers trying to raise 
> families without fathers, or veterans whose society
> has abandoned them.  
> Lots of other stories in 37,000,000 lives!
> So if we're telling urban stories, let me share one
> of mine. One summer 
> in grad school I tried selling Encyclopedia
> Brittanica.  I was a 
> horrible failure, financially, but I thought it
> would do me good to 
> develop the pushy, sell-something side of me, so it
> was the best job I 
> ever had, personally. Anyway, I got a "lead"
> post-card from an address 
> in Cabrini Green housing development in Chicago, one
> of the worst 
> possible high-rise jungles.  I thought "Well, I
> don't have anything 
> better to do, and obviously this person wants the
> free paperbacks" so I 
> arranged a meeting.  When I got to the right floor,
> past the non-working 
> elevators and smell of urine, I found a small
> apartment, tastefully 
> decorated, with a mother and four children of
> various ages. She made 
> room for me at the table and we talked for a while. 
> The children came 
> and went, always politely.  After I left I thought
> "Here is a normal 
> person, trying to make her way in life with her
> family." She did indeed 
> want the free paperbacks, and obviously was not
> interested in buying the 
> Brittanica, but it was a chance to talk to her about
> what she wanted for 
> her children.  If I hadn't gone into that apartment,
>  the outside 
> appearance of Cabrini Green would have given me an
> image of stark 
> despair and poverty that would have clouded my
> judgment.  Street people 
> are just that, on the street, in your face. But what
> goes on behind the 
> windows of all those decrepit buildings lining the
> streets is probably a 
> complete surprise to all of us. 
> The fundamental problem, it seems to me, is that not
> only are we as a 
> society "unzipping" politically along red/blue
> lines, we are "unzipping" 
> socially along economic lines.  I grew up knowing a
> fair number of rich 
> and poor people. I suspect that most citizens in the
> U.S. today no 
> longer have as wide a range of friends or
> acquaintances of differing 
> economic status.  Who we don't know can destroy us
> as a society.
> -- 
> -------------------------------------------------
> "Never attribute to malice that which can be     
> explained by incompetence and ignorance."        
> -------------------------------------------------
> John Wager                john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx
>                                    Lisle, IL, USA
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