April 27, 2007

Does the Cycle End?

i'm asking myself this after a rabbit trail of thoughts.

it all started two days ago. i watched Pride & Prejudice, a movie i dearly love. for those who are not so enamoured with Jane Austen or classic love stories, it essentially is a story of one woman from a certain class (economic status) and a man from a much higher class falling in love, her pride and his prejudice.

fortunately for her, Elizabeth Bennet (the main character) was born into a decent class, but from those in higher classes her position in society was not very desirable, especially when it came to marriage and joining families from different classes.

what got me thinking about the cycle was a very unobtrusive thing i saw while watching the extras on the DVD. one of the extras was about Jane Austen, how she was ahead of her time as an author. there was a shot of her signature which, incidentally starts with the same letter as mine. i remember always feeling like i had poor hand writing and wanting to be able to sign my name in the style of handwriting that Jane Austen and so many others used during that time period.

what i realized is that handwriting from that time period was so beautiful, consistent and precise because people wrote more slowly. they had time to sit and be very deliberate about the strokes they made. women had time to sit and learn to sew, to draw, to study the "modern" languages, to play piano-forte, to read and to write. well, women born into a good class had time to become "accomplished" as it was called.

so, i thought, what of the women (and men) who didn't have time to become accomplished? they were the girls and boys who came from lower class families. girls who had to work as seamstresses, cooks, house maids, au-peres (nannies), if they were lucky enough to be hired by an upperclass family. some girls didn't have that good fortune and took positions in some of the lowest classes of society, just to be able to buy some stale bread to eat (i'm thinking of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, how Charlie's mom washed laundry for a living and the family was eating cabbage soup for the 5th or 6th day in a row and it was basically watered down-watered down left over cabbage soup). these women and men never had time to sit and learn to write. they came from families with little or no money, which led them into a life of work instead of education, and the work they did never got them ahead in life, but only kept them alive for that day. with no time for education, they never got better jobs, never made more money, never had any hope of being anything more than what they were, unless they defied the odds, like Elizabeth Bennet, and married into a higher class (which, as a side note, is why the story is such a classic. Elizabeth Bennet found love and defied the odds).

all this makes me ask: where the heck in history did class begin? it's not new and it's still the structure of society today. who decided what was valuable and who was allowed to have it? when did people begin dividing themselves into class? was it when greed and pride caused a man to horde what was valuable and overpower people to become a king? how far back does class go?

why hasn't it changed? if we know that class division is wrong and that the value of a human life has nothing to do with possessions or education, why are we still living in a world that functions based on class?

i know it has to do with expectations. people in lower classes aren't treated with the expectation that they can be more, and sadly it seems rare that a person from a lower class defies the expectation and breaks into a higher class.

i thought capitalism was supposed to be the american dream? everyone gets a slice of the pie, everyone gets to make his own way and find his dream and get rich. well, when everyone is looking out for number one and when our lives are based on and fueled by profit, people are going to get stepped on and trodded upon until they are under the shoes of someone else.

when does it end? how does it end? is it possible to end the cycle of class, of poverty, of materialism, of gain for self without regard for any other life? if capitalism isn't the answer, could it be communism, where every person is regarded equally? i think the former soviet union is an adequate response to that.

no structure of society ever devised or schemed by mankind will ever be the answer because we are deeply flawed. the human condition is that we exist for ourselves, we live for number one, we choose and fight for the right to be our own individual person, separate from others, more important than others.

is there any hope for change? unless we be changed thoroughly, completely, wholly and totally into a new creation by the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead, there is no hope for change. even then, we still struggle in these time worn bodies to make an existance for ourselves.

changing our mindset about what is important and what makes people valuable is the first step, and can only be accomplished by living from the inner sanctuary of the soul where God dwells, viewing our world and our earthly companions in the glow of His holy light. but change in perspective is useless if we don't make tangible and practical changes.

i was going to quote a verse from James 2 about faith being dead and useless without works, but really, the entire chapter is fitting.

but considering all this, i feel so small, so helpless, so hopeless. i am one person, less educated than most, living at a financial level considered "low class", and raising a baby. what means could i possible have to make any impact or change whatsoever that could affect humanity? the answers and solutions are so enormous. i feel so lame.

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