Confronting our misconceptions about “the poor”

We may have heard these generalizations about the poor, or held them ourselves. (Or, still hold them.)

— They are lazy and uneducated.
— They chose to be poor. They could pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get out of it if they really wanted.
— The poor are the government’s responsibility.
— It’s their own fault they are poor.

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Being truly “evangelical”

“Evangelical” in American cultural usage right now is a term that is full of landmines. Michael Gerson, an evangelical writer, is a voice that calls out the challenges often. In a current column with the Washington Post, he reminds readers of what true evangelicals used to be like:

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The Coddling of the American Mind: Is there any HOPE?

The picture painted in The Coddling of the American Mind is harsh. We’ve truly had a lot go wrong and we’ve put a lot of fear and anxiety into our lives, and much of it that is unnecessary. Is there any hope? They give some ideas, thankfully.

First, start with childhood. Colleges definitely need work (and these two university professors know those issues), but why not start kids off better?

Here are some quick points they offer:

  1. Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child. (Let them have some small risks early and grow the space for risk as they get older.)
  2. Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded. (HINT: Quit watching “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order: SVU”.)
  3. The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. (In other words, you can find good in a Republican AND a Democrat. Hard to believe, I know.)
  4. Help schools to oppose the great untruths. (Demand more recess!)
  5. Limit and refine device time. (Well… those first four seem doable!)
  6. Support a new national norm: service or work before college.
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The balkanization of the United States

When the Soviet Union was collapsing in the last 1980s, I read an article in The Atlantic about a region I’d never heard of: the Balkans. In that article, the writer told a tale I found fantastic and almost unbelievable. His contention was that during the Cold War, it was good for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to be the big gorillas in Europe. It kept this Balkan region from exploding.

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