One of the new things that I have been trying lately is Pub Theology.
(An idea I am borrowing from others who have tried it in other places.)
Once a month any who are interested gather at a local bar, have a beer together and talk about an issue and concern that faces our communities. We have talked about guns and gun violence, the war on Christmas, and last night about racism and the changing demographics in the communities in which we live.
The conversation was interesting.
Those of us who were there were all roughly the same age and where all the same race. We wondered how the conversation would have been different if African-Americans or Latinos had been a part of the conversation. But, what was interesting is that many around the table thought the divisions that existed in our communities was less about race and more about class and about a sense of entitlement. Not a sense of entitlement felt by those who are of a lower socio-economic class, but the sense of entitlement felt by those who have both money and power. Summed up in a sentence, the observation made last night, using education as an example, went something like this: “My child is entitled to xxxx, and they (those who are economically disadvantaged and who may need more academic support and services) are diverting resource away from what my child deserves.”
I think there is some truth in that observation that was made.
I see it and experience that sense of entitlement as I walk down the streets of the Village where I live. I hear about it when I speak with teachers and administrators in our local school district. I see it acted out as I watch children interact with each other and with other adults in our community. And, it is reinforced each time we hear a commercial tell us, “You deserve it.” And, it doesn’t matter, does it, whether we think commercials make or reflect societal trends, that sense of entitlement is still very much in play.
I am not quite sure what to do with the observation made last night other than to do my best to continue the conversation and to see where that might lead. And, in some communities (maybe including ours) there is not much of a distinction between class and race. What I know for sure is this. Whether the cause is class or race or a sense of entitlement, the divide exists and is growing larger, and that is not good for our children, our families or our communities.