Paul Tough wrote a phenomenal article for the New York Times magazine in which he tells the story of Ruby Payne who harnessed the Law of Attraction to start a multi-million dollar business, change her life, and fight poverty.
By accident, over thirty years ago, she discovered vast differences in the way poor, middle class, and rich people think and appropriately named it ‘Class- Consciousness.’
Ruby’s story resonates with me.
Change is possible
It is critical that you change the way you think if you wish to change anything about your circumstances. And the best way to change the way you think is to examine the people that have escaped poverty and the entrapments of working class servitude, and model how they think. Instead of hating and envying the successful, learn from them!
The Giant Sucking Vortex of Poverty
If you come from a poor or working class background, and you wish to change your thoughts and actions, the biggest obstacle is the notion of selling out. The pressure to stay in the circle of damaging thoughts and beliefs is tremendous, and it comes from within the class structure like a giant sucking vortex.
I can relate to Ruby’s anecdotes. I’ve seen grown men with families take home $1,000 on Thursday and ask for an advance on Friday because they blew the entire check on booze, cocaine, and pull-tabs. Not only did they think this was normal, they blamed other people for their actions! Meanwhile their wives and children suffer.
Schools of Thought
It appears there are two schools of thought about reducing poverty.
- Poverty is mostly due to a cyclical pattern of thoughts and actions that adults can change if they choose to implement certain options available to them. Outsiders can help, but it is a at best an 80/20 proposition.
- Poverty is structural and the poor cannot help themselves. Expecting them to help themselves “blames the victim”, is counter productive, and will only lead to more poverty. Alleviating poverty requires the power elite to lift the poor from poverty.
#1 says – you can do it and I’d love to help you – you are more powerful than you imagine.
#2 says – you are a helpless victim of a massive conspiracy. Don’t even try to change. You couldn’t if you wanted to; it’ll only make you depressed and angry, so please hold tight until we get enough funding to help you.
I used to believe in #2 and it led nowhere. Waiting around for someone else to fix your life is a dead end. You’ll die waiting.
UPDATE: Thanks to some thoughtful readers who have sent me links, I understand a little more about Ruby Payne. She seems to have made enemies in some high places. That can be a good, because it means she’s shaking things up and making people think. Her critics seem to have two strong points with which I agree:
- She is enriching herself by taking money from the government schools. It’s a fair criticism. Sucking on the teat of the government sow, doesn’t create wealth.
- She is a proponent of GWBs No Child Left Behind. I can’t understand how so called conservatives got hoodwinked into centralized education. Washington should have no… and I mean no say over what happens locally. The best way to ensure this is by complete deregulation and privatization of education.
Visit Ruby’s Blog
A couple of Ruby’s most popular books:
The book that inspired Ruby to create her company: