Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Heartache in the Heartland

With the growth of my employer, my duties have taken me to places in my country that I never expected to visit.

This week, I affectionately referred to as hell week. Six states in four days.

My second stop took me to St. Louis. The purpose was a site visit with one of my more challenging clients. 

Rather than fly, which was option available to her, she drove for four hours for our meeting. By her own admission, she has control issues. Being a recovering control freak, I am a little sympathetic to her plight. Believe me, life cures you of that crap.

After taking care of the core purpose of our visit we had dinner at a local Bar-B-Q joint. 

I'm not sure why, but she shared her story with me. She was born in a tiny City in Kansas which now has a population 0f 4690. I did not leave out any zeroes.

At age six she moved into a Children's Home in St. Louis. Why? Due to her father's alcohol driven abuse, her mother left her and her brother. Her father did unspeakable things to them. She spoke out and she was banished to the Children's Home and her family shunned her.

Sadly, this was and is typical behavior in the City that she grew up in. Her brother is in jail for the same reason. Failure to condemn this behavior, you are truly doomed to repeat it.

Another common practice is for men in their 50s to marry teenagers. Parents routinely, sign off and celebrate the nuptials. We are talking 14 and 15  year olds folks.

She was the first in her family to finish high school. Graduating with an Associates degree further separated her from her community. She did not encounter her first black person until she went to college. She assured me, the only black people these folks see are on TV. Voting for a woman was worse than voting for a black man.

There are no jobs, welfare and drug distribution are the norm. The goals of the menfolk are to obtain:

                                                                 * pickup truck
                                                                 * coon dog
                                                                 * rifle
                                                                 * woman

in that order.

She knows when it is payday. Why? The men pull up in their pickups and the women sign their checks over to them.  Her refusal to play by these rules have left her without a man.

Through her religion, she is not longer blaming herself for her parents behavior. She is working on the whole forgiveness thing. Ugh.

Self-esteem? Her therapist and music have helped her on her journey.

She currently works as a Risk Manager for an organization with 90 sites. She lives in a home nestled on 18 acres filled with peaches, cherries and blackberries. When she retires, she plans on becoming a missionary. She wants to do good before she leaves this planet.

If her story is the norm, why doesn't the media cover these stories? Armed with no education or social skills, how the hell can these people compete in a global economy? How is this any different than the urban crisis? Drugs, alcohol, violence are all mental health issues.

This my Country for Heaven's sake. We need to invest in our citizens.

I am appalled and saddened.

At the risk of repeating myself, we are in the middle of a class war. Those being exploited are blinded by their prejudices to join forces with their urban citizens against the true culprits. Let's start with Shrub and finish with McCain.

My client's pain sits on the surface. I truly hope she finds peace.


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