I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2012, entitled “The New American Divide,” which discussed the increasing differences between the working class and the upper class in America. In 1960, these two groups participated in cultural institutions such as marriage, full-time employment (at least for males), and religion at much more similar rates than they did in 2010.
“For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway,” says the author, Charles Murray.
But, Murray argues, there is now a great cultural divide between classes in American society, which means that we no longer have cultural equality. The article is worth reading simply for its explanation of the cultural differences now permeating our society.
But the article also raises issues for us to think about concerning the solutions to the increasing cultural differences. Murray believes that it is primarily up to the upper income class to resolve the cultural divide. He says the upper class should take action to maintain the cultural equality that has made America a land of opportunity.
First, Murray says that “married, educated people who work hard and conscienctiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms.” The upper class must preach what it practices. Which is hard to do in our "anything goes" society.
But beyond practicing what they preach, Murray suggests that the upper class should rethink their priorities to increase the cultural connections between classes.
Ask yourself whether you are willing to change the following in order to increase your exposure to people of other classes:
- The neighborhood where you live
- The school you choose for your children
- What you tell your children about the value and virtues of physical labor and military service
- Whether you are an active member of a religious congregation
- Whether you are involved in your community beyond attendance at charity events.