Here are just some random observations on the stark contrast between the values of people born on opposite sides of the great economic divide. Disclaimer: this is strictly unscientific, biased, and subjective.
When you’re born being handed everything, and take things for granted, it’s easy to reject all that materialism as empty and meaningless.
When you’re raised with nothing, and struggle for even essentials, you take nothing for granted, and come to think of acquiring anything as a privilege and a goal.
Similarly, when you’ve been able to accumulate more than enough things, you tend to think of them as disposable and replaceable. You think in terms of downsizing, and traveling light, and you can’t take it with you.
Whereas, when acquiring every little thing is a struggle, nothing is dispensable. It took hard work and hard-earned money to obtain them, and you aren’t about to downsize for the convenience of your future survivors. You’re all about “nesting” to compensate for a lifetime of deprivation.
When you grow up in an atmosphere of books and learning, owning and reading books is like air to breathe and food to eat, something you consider essential and non-optional. It’s what separates you from lower forms of life, and expands your understanding of the universe.
When you grow up deprived of books and discouraged from learning, you think of books as something privileged people accumulate like decorative collectibles. You’re too busy working for necessities to even have leisure time to read, let alone think of books as a way to discover new worlds and open your horizons.
Growing up with diverse, healthy food options, not only is your physical and mental development fortified, but you learn to think of culinary arts as a creative cultural discovery as well as preventive medicine.
Growing up with poor role models and with few affordable options in a food desert, it’s about scrounging just to survive. You appreciate the little you can get to feed yourself and your family. Health, variety, and creativity are for the privileged.
These are just some of my admittedly biased perceptions of the “divide”. It’s one thing to opt out of privilege to experience how the “other half”, which is actually the majority, lives; it’s another thing altogether to have never enjoyed that advantage in the first place. So although I may be living among the less fortunate, my experience will always be a bit secondhand.
Still, it’s eye-opening to start to comprehend the extent to which we are increasingly divided in this country. On the coasts, one doesn’t always get to experience the time warp that is the vast middle. People here in the midwest still have the collective memory of living on farms with no indoor plumbing and outhouses, with gravel roads and horse-drawn carriages, with never having heard of fruits and vegetables we take for granted. In some ways it’s like time travel back to post-WW2. People here are still recovering from the loss of industries, and are fortunate to even find jobs, let alone good educations or healthcare. It’s literally another world. A Trump world.