A few years ago I visited a mid-sized industrial city in the midwest to attend a birthday party. The guest of honor taught at a local university and most of the friends and family worked in education, non-profits or government. They were intelligent, sensitive and caring people. They were all liberal Democrats. Though we are defined by more than our politics, it still struck me that people coming from sectors that are self-portrayed to be the most open and inclusive tend to be like most other groups. We gravitate toward, take comfort in our own.
Growing up in an affluent suburb of Chicago with highly-principled parents and sisters who cared little about money made me suspicious of wealth and the bias it could produce by living in a sheltered, homogeneous world. Even at the Jesuit high school I attended, a great school with most teachers being exceptional and extremely dedicated to their students, a few of the priests would preach to the parents a sermon of wealth in and of itself not being a bad thing. This was not a sermon this particular group needed to hear. I’m sure a certain Jesuit named Francis would agree. But the sermon comforted a like-minded group.
After the financial Armageddon hit, President Obama was on the campaign trail talking “privately” to like-minded individuals. He uttered these infamous words:
But the truth is that our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s no evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio