The Moral Life of Downtown

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On a quest in search of content for his new book about poverty in America, Earl Shorris had thought to himself that he probably had exhausted the reasons as to how poverty can be alleviated in America considering that he had interviewed more than six hundred people.  He also thought that he had heard most of the reasons leading to poverty. This wasn’t until he met with Viniece, who gave him a new perspective on how to tackle poverty in America that none of the previous interviewees had raised before. Viniece, a female prisoner diagnosed with the HIV virus told him that the only way to eliminate poverty is through what she called the “the moral life of downtown.” She proposes that the children should be taught the moral life of downtown. By that, Viniece meant giving the children a moral alternative to the streets which is the life most of the poor kids are used to. Viniece further expounds on this and says that the alternatives are humanities, the study of human constructs and concerns. From her experience, it should start with educating children from poor backgrounds. This she says will change their refection of life as opposed to the laborious life they grow up knowing thus believing it is the only thing that can help them survive.  This shows how education is key in alleviating poverty in America.

From this, Shorris notes that there exists a clear distinction between the preparation of the life of the rich and the life of the poor which has to be eliminated to combat poverty. Viniece points out things like taking the kids to plays, museums, lectures, concerts etc where they can learn the life of downtown. This adds up to learning, which is education. I completely agree with Viniece because by learning, the mindsets of these children from the poor will open up from the closed mind that only believes in laborious tasks to survive and shift to other constructive perspectives in life. An example is what Shorris calls politics. Something she explains as a more effective method of living in this society like the rich.          

The environment that the poor live in is very different from that middle and rich people live in. Their environment is harsh and more aggressive than their counter parts. There are no clearly laid structures on how a good/ easy life can be attained by having a good education. Stereotypically, the poor are associated to practical skills and low-earning jobs as opposed to the rich. In American the culture of the poor differs from the western society culture they live in. Education wise they are taught things that only fix their thinking towards aggression and a tough way of survival. This is why Shorris notes that education should be harmonized regardless of the institution one is studying from.

Goodnough, 2012 also supports the notion that the poor should not only concentrate on practical skills which only and s them low paying jobs but should also learn humanities to try and leave their life with that of the privileged class. A fact supported by Shorris who also refutes that the poor should engage in practical causes that give them low earning jobs to survive.

As Shorris puts it, the mindset of a poor person would rather survive on practical things than on theories, they are lured to taking the practical courses rather than theories and principals. This is why Viniece says it should start with the children because it is easier to change their mindset. The children in return will then apply the same technique to their children eroding the aggressive survival means with time. This affirms that education is the key to alleviating poverty because it will spark the visions, dreams and capability to reflect on a better way of life other than the low-earning jobs. This will then have the children of the poor pursue that kind of life that rich people live. Thus when Shorris says that education is the answer to poverty, he is right in all aspects.

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