You don’t know what you don’t know.
Better stated, you don’t know what you haven’t witnessed. We are taught about racial inequality, gender gap differences, and abject poverty, but until we witness these conditions we are unaware that they are closer to home than we think. We have the habit of building false walls, ones that hold in what we know and block out the alien. Whether the wall is blocking out the homeless of downtown Worcester or holding in the food stamps; the wall is indiscriminate.
It’s not in place because we necessarily think we are better than the other half, but because we don’t wan to challenge our sense of normalcy. However, it is imperative to tear down that wall if we want to succeed, to move up and better ourselves.
Having come from a comfortable family in Holden I never understood the abject poverty that exists in my own backyard until I went to school in Worcester. There are students that come to school everyday not for education but because that is the only place they can get a meal. To me this was an awakening, my parents had taught me that education is important, but seeing first hand the effects of skating by in school made me want to work even harder. It is not until we leave our comfort zone that we understand the importance of hard work to either maintain our normalcy or to achieve a new normalcy.
I counter my experience with my observations from work. Being an employee at a country club I have met hundreds of wonderful people that help the less fortunate, but I also learned something disturbing. Growing up in the walled country club doesn’t allow individuals to see the poverty that is just outside the gate. It is so easy for someone to lose theirselves in the lush green grass and the “magic window,” )what the kids call the snack-shack because they can just charge food to their parents account), so easy to forget that to be a member requires hard work.
The importance of witnessing how the other half lives, not just reading and watching the news, but actually entering some aspect of their life, is so vital to the success of our country. If we become complaisant with what we have in front of us the problems we face as a nation will never be solved. The generations to follow will be clones of the past. To better ourselves we must at least put a window in our walls and observe what is outside our small bubbles.