For a good number of years, every spring I would go to Boarders or Barnes & Nobles and buy books for summer reading – always one book only because of its cover. When I started reading books on my iPad in earnest, I fell out of my spring habit. Yesterday, I walked by a B. & N. and a book displayed caught my attention, so I bought it and a few other tactile summer books.
This particularly book, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” was written by a J.D. Vance whose “people” (extended family) originally was and is from the coal country of Eastern Kentucky – Jackson, KY. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School, now lives in California, and still refers to himself at heart as a “hillbilly.”
In his writing, I see where my “people” are from in both the incredible goodness and beauty of the place and also the horrific conditions people live under and through.
He uses his experience and observation to comment on the profound crisis among economically poor people throughout the country.
My own experience and observations lead me to this question – Why do we continue to tell ourselves (those of means and bleeding hearts) that a place and a people can exist on government assistance/handouts and still retain their dignity, a hopeful future, and cohesion as a beneficial community? Helping people in need isn’t the issue, but how that help is understood and delivered continues to be an issue. We have to approach all of this in a different way, because the way we are going isn’t working. (Until certain segments of the population understand this, they will never, ever understand how someone like Trump is elected President.)