We are in crisis in America. We are so entrenched in our own experience and values that we neglect to heed the wisdom that has served as the unspoken foundation of our very nation: diversity. We fail to capture the diverse experiences possible within this singular country and it divides us. As I looked at the upcoming school loan issues, I hear people condemning those who take out loans. “The parents should tell them not to go to college if they can’t afford it.” “Why aren’t their parents helping them?” “They should have planned better!” “It’s their own fault!”
But is it? Or is this the result of how little we value life in this country (after birth, of course). What if their parents don’t have any experience in these skills? Or they aren’t even there at all? The United States incarceration rates are second in the WORLD (and the number that puts us there is still not capturing all imprisoned adults or any juveniles), leaving many children with absent parents being passed from caregiver to caregiver, or a single parent who is gone all the time working just to try to provide shelter and food.
But rather than acknowledge the tremendous obstacles in place and the gross neglect in caring for and equipping our youth to be healthy and productive citizens, there is condemnation and judgment. A choice that is certainly more affordable and probably allows those sitting in judgment to sleep better at night. But most of those people don’t know what it means to grow up in poverty and rarely are they the individuals who experienced their family being continuously broken up.
“We have to start to understand that the young people we are working with have nothing of external substance or support. They have dangerous neighborhoods. They have poor places to live. They have little food to eat. They have parents who are on the ropes and barely pay attention to them. The externals with which American education is obsessed will not work in this situation…But these students have one thing that no one can take away from them. They have their souls. And from this day forth in this school, we are going to lift those souls up. We are going to make those souls visible to the young people themselves and to their parents and to the community. We are going to celebrate their souls, and we are going to reground their lives in the power of their souls. And that will require this faculty recovering the power of their own souls, remember that we, too, are soul-driven, soul-animated creatures.” -Principal from Allen School in Dayton, OH