Tag Archives: success

Generational Conditioning

30 May

Activists like to throw around terms such as “generational poverty” and “lack of access to X,” but when they quote that, they tend to forget that the communities themselves will keep their members from “progress.”

I’ve heard this called the “anthill theory” and the idea is that when one ant climbs to the top of the anthill, the other ants will grab him and try to drag them down. This is not a conscious effort–this is the natural consequence of poorer communities having different values than the richer ones.

I grew up middle class, but it was in a small rural town, so you couldn’t afford to be snobby. My friends crossed all different borders. I had poor friends, rich friends, Catholics, Protestants, Dutch, Non-Dutch (including Hispanic), so you would constantly interact with people of all backgrounds (although admittedly, mostly white). College (through grants and loans) became an opportunity available to all of my graduating high school class, but naturally, some chose not to take that path for a variety of reasons, but many simply didn’t want to leave Morrison. And half my class never came back; mind you, a quarter only moved to somewhere in the same region, but those who wanted to leave, did.

Why do I mention this? Because there aren’t a lot of jobs in Morrison; staying (or even coming back) means accepting a low income, limited dating pool, and less things available. On the flip side, it’s cheaper, and more importantly, it’s where your family lives. If family is important to you, because it provides an emotional and physical support network, then you live where your family does.

If you wanted to advance your career, but stay close to home, your option was either Sauk Valley Community College or commute to the Quad Cities (an hour away) where there were a couple options. Where I live now, my wife teaches many local kids, but she frequently has to deal with students who say, “I work 40 hours a week and pull a full course load.” Why would you put yourself through such torture? Because your family needs the money… and your scholarship mandates a full course load to get the funding.

I was blessed with a family that didn’t need me to bring in a paycheck; then again, they didn’t have a paycheck prior to this, so… it’s a choice. Improve the lives of your siblings or… don’t. Then again, my family also broke up when I went to college (mom died, stepdad got remarried), so I had a lot less incentive to return home. I could afford to move overseas and take jobs around the country because being close to my family wasn’t my main concern.

You have to move to where the money is, and if that isn’t where your family lives, you don’t get the money. If you don’t live near a grocery store, you either get on the bus and travel to one, or you depend on the convenience store within walking distance. Yeah, it sucks, but when you choose that I want to live near my extended family, there are consequences. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My kids don’t have grandparents… at least not ones who care about them. I haven’t talked to my siblings in decades and my wife’s cut herself off from hers. We’ve paid for our family distance.

Man, this got dark fast. As always, if I’m not considering something important, let me know in the comments below! But if you like my writing, check out one of my books! However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

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