Life is not fair. As simple as this four word epithet seems it is a glaring truth no matter how petulant it might seem. It is a condition that is forced upon each and every sentient being in this world, and one that many upon many have learned how to live with. Upon becoming adults and having to push through one day after the next people have already begun to understand that for change to happen it must not only come through their efforts, but also through the eyes and actions of the following generation. Emotions ranging from expectation to fear to a never ending hope for the future begin to coalesce and spiral about as people begin to understand that they are bound by nothing, and therefore are capable of most anything. How children view the world around them is important as to how they will shape their environment as they grow. Where a child grows is not as important as how they grow.
As it is explained in the series “Class Matters”, the factors that make up an individual’s supposed class are education, income, wealth, and occupation (The New York Times, 2005). Each one of these factors do not make up a definitive and well-identified formula for success, but rather indicate what is seen as valued traits in the pursuit of what is dubbed the American Dream. Through the acquisition of one factor comes another and so on and so forth. More or less, these factors provide a roadmap for future generations to follow when attempting to discover what they can accomplish. They are in effect a set of uncertain directions that are quite conditional in appearance, but carry consequences and rewards that become concrete only through their acquisition.
There is no one set formula for life, as the many variables and unseen pitfalls and
blessings that exist are based upon the environment and conditions under which a child is
born and raised. Yet for all that is given children require more than a simple guide to life to succeed. Through one developmental milestone after another children require a guide through the uncertainty that life brings, and a helping hand to navigate the more perilous pathways. The environment is not the child, though without guidance in some form the child soon becomes a product of their environment.
This is the beginning of a culture clash as children who have and children who have not
are affected throughout their developmental stages by differing accounts and experiences that are
essentially the same but seen through different eyes and different social filters that allow one child to excel while another loses hope. The division of class begins early on through either guidance or neglect, only one of which is inherently negative. Through learned behavior handed down from one generation to the next children continue to come full circle as they are taught the reason for such a division and the meaning that lies behind it. This cycle that begins in childhood is one that has played out for a great many generations, and is without a doubt one of the greatest stumbling blocks of humanity.
Cultures, and people, learn in their younger, formative years to hate, to love, and to
experience a wide range of emotions based upon what they see, hear, and experience as children.
How their parents or guardians interact with the world paints a picture of what is acceptable,
what is normal, and what is therefore how they are expected to act. While a small number of
children might go against what their parents wish, a great majority will seek to emulate their
elders and take up their attitudes and beliefs. It is the set of behaviors and attitudes that are
shown to be normal for a culture or society that are what eventually imprint upon a child, though
there are aberrations to the rule. The teaching of children to maintain a society however is quite
normal, and quite historical in nature. This is a very old practice and one that is comfortable for
As a prime example, as written by Anne Fadiman in her book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down, the Hmong family who sought to cure their daughter and the physicians that made the attempt could not come to an agreement upon what was to be done, and tragedy occurred. The child, Lia Lee, suffered a severe epileptic fit that the family believed was to be the result of her soul fleeing in terror from her body, but was in actuality a victim of a severe culture clash in which her family, being largely clannish and not in tune with the modern world, could not bring themselves to simply trust in the physicians and their practices (Fadiman, 2012). What could not be accepted by clan beliefs was ultimately what took Lia from her family and was unfortunately preventable. The culture clash that resulted in this horrible tragedy is only a small part of the issue that humanity deals with in regard to cultural differences. In this manner the child suffered horribly until the end because of a simple misunderstanding between cultures.
This is a rather common occurrence between cultures that do not understand one another, and a situation that can escalate quickly. Unfortunately those who suffer the worst are those who do not know or fully understand the differences that keep people apart. Children know little to nothing other than what they experience and learn from their elders. They are innocents that are at the mercy of those who believe that they are acting in their best interests, and therefore make such decisions for them. It is because of this that they must be shown guidance, patience, and instructed upon how the world works, not just their own personal sphere of existence, but those of others as well. What can be taught to a child is limitless in scope when it is taught by those who care for them. What is taught to a child when they are allowed to become a product of their environment however is limited only to the scope that they understand. How a child is raised will determine their course, and in so doing will eventually determine their place.
Fadiman, Anne. (2013). The Spirit Chases You and You Fall Down. New York, NY: Farrar,
The New York Times. (2005). Class Matters. New York, NY: Times Books.