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Taking Care of the Low IQ Poor

abstinence, caring, Census data, chastity, child well-being, church, culture, economic well-being, family, inequality, Pat Fagan, poverty, Prayer, Uncategorized No comments

Raj Chetty’s work, carried by The New York Times and now The Office of the Census, has made Americans more aware of the proportion who stay stuck at the bottom of the income scale.

From the work of many but especially Charles Murray we know that the bottom 10% is largely composed of those of low IQ… those with an IQ lower than 80.  They are not too bright. And in today’s more and more complex world they are at greater and greater disadvantage through no fault of their own.

The Army refuses to take anyone with an IQ in that category, so that route, effective for many as a first step up and out, is closed off to them.

Many groups help the “mobile” sector of the poor.  But the low IQ group is stuck and with little help and increasing isolation, abuse and crime. This was well depicted in the TV series “Wired”.

The need for community: A place to belong to with close others all around.

In a different era, in different political regimes such as the Middle Ages in Europe, but also in Asia, smaller communities were much more aware of these slower folks.  The good lord of the manor took it as his duty to provide for these — often by support of monasteries, but also by the provision of basic simple (though back-breaking) work. 

 Family and extended family has always been the primary source of support and is so today. But for the poor, family is now fragmented, sometime multiple times (multiple fathers for one set of children by the same mother).  The welfare state aids and abets this arrangement, essentially fostering fragmentation rather than unity and community.  Without marriage, community is virtually impossible and functional community is non-existent.

Those who are less gifted need, more than anyone else, family and community to whom to belong.  But for this they also need leadership capable of building community — of fostering belonging.

Our political order makes such virtually impossible.  Out wealthy and gifted live far away from the poor and the slow of intellect.  They feel no obligation and have absolutely no ties of relationship with or responsibility for them. 

They need help and leadership.

Leadership implies hierarchy.  An acceptable hierarchy is possible only under accepted norms of “the good”, i.e. shared moral norms.  As the good community can only exist upon good family life, a trusted hierarchy for community leadership necessitates a sound set of values, norms or principles around family issues, i.e. sexual issues.

Where can the poor find leadership anchored in a sound set of sexual issues today? In the same place they have always been found: in their places of worship. The worship of God always leads to sexual order —marriage, chaste living, fertility and putting family obligations first: to spouse and to children.  Well it always used to. Today a number of religious groups deny the need for chastity before marriage.

The welfare state does not promote nor address these issues. Our wealthy leaders (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg), if they believe in these values (and the personal lives of some seem to indicate they at least believe in marriage if not in chastity), are afraid to talk this way in public.

So, our low-I.Q neediest— those who most need leadership and a guiding culture—- have neither.

 But one source still seems probable and, in many areas, provides some of the leadership: the churches.  But, sadly, so many inner-city churches do not lead nor preach marriage for the poor and therefore not capable of developing community for the poor.  While chastity for the poor is unheard of. 

The poor, like everyone else, no matter their income, education or IQ, need marriage and chastity and bear the same consequences as everyone else.  One could say they need it even more.  The joy of a life with a good wife or husband is within reach of every class, rich or poor.  And for the poor man or woman, the greatest joy is their simplest and frequently their only one: helping each other by going through life together even when it is so tough.  Such a poor man with such a wife is really a very rich man.

 May we find it within all the human resources of the richest nation on earth and in history, the people who can lead the way forward for our slower brothers and sisters.

Neither the welfare state nor the elite (including the media which is under the control of the elite) teaches or leads this way.  Good relationships need community and prayer and worship (see Mapping America) much more then they need material goods.

 This richness will be brought to the poor by those who love God and love His poor.  And where it is happening it is almost exclusively through them.

We need a religiously base Peace Corps for our inner city poorest — and least bright…those with an IQ below 80: a good 10% of our population.  We had our past versions of this: religious orders of priests, nuns and brothers and the Salvation Army.  The middle ages had monasteries.  The 21st century needs its own new form of this perennial solution, its own from of dedicated, organized, effective love.

It will come.  Keep an eye out.  

Parenting

caring, child well-being, children, family, Uncategorized No comments

Recently, I led a group of young parents in a case study designed to teach them how to handle a three-year-old when he is throwing a temper tantrum.  The parents in the case study were dealing with their first child and made several typical mistakes: one parent spanked in anger and one parent denigrated the other in front of the child.

We dissected the case: what happened, what went wrong, what they needed to do in the future, and how to get there.  Towards the end of the session we gained a bird’s eye view when someone pointed out that the underlying issue was one of trust.  The whole episode came alive again with new energy as we analyzed the case from that perspective.

The case parents were trying to form a habit of restraint in their child so that they could trust him to practice restraint in the future.  When he demonstrates that he can restrain himself their trust in him will grow.  If he does not learn restraint, however, they will trust him less.

Ironically, to achieve this level of formation in their child, they need to be able to trust each other to “do the right thing” when disciplining their child.  Though they agree on what Johnny needs to do they do not yet agree on what each of them needs to do. In this situation they cannot trust each other yet.

This problem will be solved when they can agree: “You can rely on me to do this in this situation.  And I can rely on you to do that in this same situation.”  When they can both look each other in the eye and each say this to each other the ground beneath them has shifted. Not only has trust been restored, but the foundation of their marriage has grown and they have learned how to deepen it.  When they have solved a string of problems in this way they are well on their way to being great parents and a great couple because they have learned how to grow trust.

No matter what way they discipline their child he will turn out strong because they know it is all about trust. “Johnny, you can rely on me to do this for you.  Can I rely on you to do the same for me?”  Johnny learns many good habits but, more importantly, he learns the value of being trustworthy.

Given the massive disruption in trust that the US is experiencing in all its institutions (family, church, school, marketplace, and government) it seems that fellow citizens who are opponents on so many issues need to begin their discourse with: “You can rely on me to treat you with respect in our conversations.  Can I rely on the same from you?”   Without a “yes” there is no point in having the conversation. With a “yes” the ground has shifted— a brick has been laid in the infrastructure we need most: trust.

If we adopt this habit a lot will change. Is there anyone in your orbit with whom you need to practice this?  A spouse?  A child? A relative?  A co-worker? A neighbor?

 

With an eye to the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the MARRI Project
Catholic University of America

Caring and the Culture

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Professor Richard Weissbroud, Harvard faculty director of Human Development and Psychology in the School of Education, recently presented data on children and their parents which leaves him very disturbed about the culture we have built, including the culture at Harvard.  It is well worth watching.

When ranking personal achievement vs. personal happiness vs. being a caring person only 20 percent of our children rank ‘being a caring person’ as the highest goal — a drastic drop from prior generations.  But when their parents rank their goals for their children, being a caring person is ranked in first place by a significant majority.  However when their children are asked what they think their parents chief aspirations for them are most (60%) think their parents want them to be achieving rather than caring. Only 15 % think their parents rank ‘being a caring person’ as #1.  Finally most parents in ranking other parents think other parents rank achievement over caring.  That is most parents think other parents are the problem.  However their children see through that and most put their parents in the same place as all the other parents.

His conclusion: we no longer foster being caring.  This holds true even at Harvard for Harvard.  He concludes: “…it is one route [as to] why we are living in such a fractured, polarized and nasty and uncivil political and civil time in this country.”

Though professor Weissbroud sees the powerful and positive role of religion — which is great to see in an eminent academic — he very clearly does not want to advocate religious practice.  Instead he says we must seek a secular, non-religious way.

My conclusion:  He is a caring social scientist doing great diagnostic work who drops his science (and really becomes less caring) when it comes to intervention. Ironic.  But, as he said, Harvard has its shortcomings.  Sometimes caring takes courage.  However it would be tough, especially at Harvard.