JACKSBORO, Texas, July 11, 2012 — We’re hearing a lot about “class warfare” in this election season, part of a discussion about the economic condition of some segments of our society.
The “upper class,” according to the prevailing model, would be those with better-than-average education, and with this better-than-average education they make money to buy a country-club lifestyle, have a very selective group of friends, and have the best cars on the block. Naturally, they buy their children educations in the best schools so that they can perpetuate the class. This upper class holds a great deal of weight in politics; they have the resources to get the candidates to see things a certain way; that is, their way.
Then there is the “middle class.” They are more difficult to define. They can be well educated, and many hold down very good jobs and live very comfortably. Their children are well dressed, and are able to attend food schools. But not always, and they’re more subject to the winds of financial fortune. You don’t need a good education to be in the middle class; many are just hard working people, blue collar or white collar, and their friends range from the neighborhood grocer to the high school coach to some of the upper class. They have a deep desire to better themselves and their families. They are involved in local politics. They are the ones who are out on the street pounding the pavement for a better America.
“Lower class” is an ugly, dismissive term. I hate it. These are often hard working Americans. Many of these people are well educated, not usually in the halls of higher education, but in the halls of life. They do their best to raise their families and teach them the importance of hard work and of obeying the laws of the land.
Their hope is their children. They have a desire to see their children experience the American dream, to own a house in the country, to attend good schools, to have families and be happy. There’s nothing “lower class” about their aspirations.
The elites laugh at the “McMansions” and suburbs of the upper-middle class, seeing them as soulless materialism (as opposed to their own soulful materialism?) and breeding grounds for small-minded politics. What they don’t see are the aspirations for the same things they aspire to – comfort, beauty, security. The middle classes often look at the lower class as lazy or foolish, not seeing the hope of something better for their children and the aspirations they themselves hold dear.
We are all Americans, no matter our position in life, our bank account, our race, religion or political persuasion. We need to see others through the same lenses through which we see ourselves, fellow humans who want the same things we do, their standards of success differing in degree, not kind. If we do that, we will see an America that has been reborn spiritually, morally, and economically.
As long as we judge people by their possessions and their social status, we will be blind to the greatness of America. The Declaration of Independence boldly claims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
These rights and blessings aren’t reserved by our Creator for a chosen few, but for all. The American people aren’t meant to be divided into classes, but united in one nation, under God, their freedoms guarded by a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
I have known very rich people who have made themselves friends to all, and I have known people with almost no wealth who live lives of dignity and of a higher purpose. So when I hear politicians refer to “upper class,” “middle class,” and “lower class” America, I think to myself, they haven’t met the real America.
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