Saturday, July 27, 2013

Post No. 187a: Children of a Greater God, or Why Cary, NC is in the Bible Belt

© 2011 and 2013, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

There are certain works of art which, simply by virtue of their name, implore one to examine them further. For us, two of them have always been Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (what a great name), and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (not bad either).

There is a work about which we wondered for years, but never chose to examine until recently - Children of a Lesser God. Having been brought up in a world of monotheistic religions, we asked, “How could there be a lesser God, and who are these children so affected?” Of course, we know better than to take anything seriously, but it still got our attention. We finally decided to explore this work this month, but it was a personal experience which prompted us to do so – our encounter with Children of a Greater God.

We found the kids in Cary, a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh, apart from being the capital, is the heart of the Research Triangle. The “Triangle” not only contains Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, but also serves as HQs for numerous high-tech companies. It is also the home of Bozo the Clown. Although settled in 1750, if asked during the 1960s where Cary was, few would have been able to respond.

The son of one of our friends ran in a track meet for private high school students. The event was held at the Cary Academy, the most prestigious private school in the region. Since the collective athletic prowess of the participants left much to be desired, we found ourselves taking note of other things. Upon entering the long, tree-lined, manicured entrance to the campus enveloped in lush vegetation, we got a sense that we were going to see something different.

The parkway carried us to a lot full of high-priced SUVs. The Academy buildings, in their bucolic setting, looked more like those of a private college than a grade school in the midst of a densely populated urban center. Once we entered the stands on the side of the stunning Tartan track, our attention turned to those seated around us.

There were roughly 150 of them (consisting mostly of parents and siblings of the athletes), of which 15 were African-American and 3 Asian. Despite the fact that North Carolina is generally regarded as the number 1 state in the nation in terms of percentage increase in Hispanics, no Hispanics were in sight, in any capacity. The onlookers were all fresh in appearance, healthy, clean-cut, and smartly dressed. No one was obese, and there no smell of fried chicken in the air. Although it is possible that someone had a rosebud or heart planted just above their navel or the crack in their butt, there was not a tattoo to be found.

All of the conversations around us were civil in tone, with many revolving around trips abroad. There was a noticeable lack of rowdiness and profanity, and the N word was either across the tracks, or on vacation. What was perhaps most revealing was that there was a throng of kids in the 4-6 year old range, who were permitted to roam the grounds unattended and expected to return to their parents unmolested.

While we explore lots of social policy issues on this blog, and how they relate to personal responsibility, we rarely address class issues. And socio-economic class is a big deal.

We’ve often wondered whether, if there were only one “socialist,” social policy implemented by our government, we’d be a better nation. That policy would consist of ensuring that all children get the same socio-economic start. After all, it’s not their fault who their parents are, and what their parents have, and where their parents live…. Now that’s a program we could support. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know. The parents would exploit it.)

But poverty and paucity of options run deep… and long, and at some point become institutionalized and inculcated in nature, despite the few aberrant worms who escape.

We looked up some stats on Cary, the town. The racial makeup is 71% Caucasian, 8% African-American, 13% Asian, and 7% Hispanic or Latino. With respect to education, 68% of the adult hold an associate degree or higher, and 61% possess a bachelor degree or higher. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the state for municipalities of its size, and it was judged the 4th safest of 327 large cities in the nation.

Although we wouldn’t want to live in Cary, due to its lack of filth and vice, perhaps calling those kids we met on the track that Friday afternoon “Children of a Greater God,” might not be that far a stretch. After all, the situation in which they find themselves is more than happenstance – isn’t it?


  1. 'Spector,

    I'm not sure where to begin to address this post. I can't recall precisely how I responded when I first read it some number of years prior, but I know that I have not changed my mind about your conclusions in the interim: the surface of the pond may appear serene . . . but predators with big teeth often lurk just below the surface.

    I am qualified to state this as I spent many years in a suburb quite similar to Cary. I really don't wish this response to turn into a diatribe, so please suffice it to say that such a community does little to inspire individualism and personal fulfillment in its myriad iterations . . . instead turning out serial generations of Stepford wives, husbands and children. Many such "oases" are a study in mindless conformity and inflexible social doctrine cloaked in perfectly-manicured lawns (maintained thus via regulatory mandate) and the expensive abodes which are situated upon them (priced, zoned and tax-rated to ensure that it all stays just as it is -- Children of a Lesser God are not invited).

    You seem fixated upon this notion that material wealth and education equate to quality of life . . . but I'm here to tell you that, for some of us, it just ain't so my friend.

    For perspective, please read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It was written in 1931 . . . but it is metaphorically set in present day Cary.

    The Independent Cuss

  2. Thanks, as always Independent Cuss, for your input. Although it might surprise you, we are not in substantial disagreement with the majority of the points you make.

    However, there is a reason that we re-posted this piece right after our preceding post on the divergent positions taken by citizens in response to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial following the death of Trayvon Martin. People in our society have dramatically different backgrounds and experiences in life. Their parents and neighborhoods are all over the place, and the resources available to them vary widely.

    We did not intend to suggest that God is looking more kindly on the children in the households in Cary. We were simply making a play on words, since the title "Children of a Lesser God always intrigued us." Perhaps we should have entitled the piece, "Children of an Equal God," or "Children upon Whom God Looks Equally?"

    That being said, there is little dispute that a higher percentage of children who become involved in criminal activity come from single parent families in poor neighborhoods, with poor education, and fewer resources. Is that a death sentence or does that constitute fate for such a child? Of course not; however, it clearly less likely that the poor and poorly educated child will far as well as his upper middle class counterpart.

    And it is not just money. It's location, food, population density, proximity to great educational institutions, access to libraries and computers, and many other factors which contribute to our diversity. Should it surprise anyone that people saw George Zimmerman through many different lenses?

  3. Well spoke IC. The lack of sensitivity of this generation and especially in the UK was a high price for society to pay for the surface peace. The UK example existed at a much much lower level of material wealth than in IR's example, but` our 'god's children' had CLASS to aspire to and respect, while god was a silent onlooker. (Thank god).

    It is easy to conclude that the materialist spiritualism of these sickening people led to the current state - as y'all know better than me - of affairs.

    And just who is motivating your brilliant and talented youth to succeed in their inner acceptance of less (the future certainty) rather than in their competitiveness (a bigger slice of a smaller cake (burnt or not) ) Anyone?

    The mantra of 'personal responsibility' is not good enough. Sorry! It's not good AT ALL if it replaces responsibility to people with less. Is it?

  4. Thanks again for visiting us CorfuBob.

    We'll set forth a basic tenet which explains much in the way of human behavior: "People change when they are sufficiently motivated to change." The operative word is "sufficiently."

    People do not do things in a vacuum without some reason. We submit that many of the youth in society today have little interest in the values of their parents or grandparents, or in the pursuit of the material goals which others would have them pursue, because they are "insufficiently" motivated. In other words, whether rightly or wrongly, they do not see where such an approach will likely inure to their benefit.

    No one likes to waste time unnecessarily. People need to feel that their efforts will be rewarded at some point down the road. Neither government nor private enterprise alone can offer that. It has to come from a different place.


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