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God Help Rural Americans



Psalms 34:18 says that “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” This is part of a broader Biblical theme that the Lord comforts the broken and the crushed, the oppressed, and the ignored.


The broken and the oppressed take many forms, depending on the context of one’s society. In America, one of the oppressed groups who gets the least amount of attention is poor rural Americans, sometimes represented emblematically by the rust belt—“the geographic region stretching from New York through the Midwest that was once dominated by the coal industry, steel production, and manufacturing.” [4]


A study released in 2019 showed that life expectancy along the rust belt of America has decreased in recent years, dropping due to a number of factors including poverty-induced suicide, smoking, alcohol abuse, and chronic stress.


As one article put it: “So many people now live paycheck-to-paycheck that an illness, a broken-down car or an unexpected bill can throw families into crisis. ‘You can be as tough and strong as you want to be, but you can’t help but fall through the cracks of the system; Nofziger said. ‘They’re not even cracks, they’re big, gaping holes.’” [3]


Sadly, none of the academic leaders who are at the pinnacle of American society genuinely care about the plight of blue-collar workers.


Ivy league institutions prove the truth of this fact in the courses they design important to teach the next leaders of America.


At these institutions, poverty is usually characterized as a race problem that only affects minorities. If you search their Fall 2021 course catalog for Yale University using terms like “working-class,” “poverty,” “blue-collar,” “rural,” and “white” no classes show up that specifically study the first four terms and the word “white” only brings up such titles as: “Managing Blackness in a ‘White Space.’” [1]


One writer for the Harvard Business Review critiques this elitist mindset from within by noting:

Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic. Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never. [2]


Though it is a hard pill to swallow, no one is coming to save rural America. This is one of the sad bi-products of living in a world tainted by sin. With the added damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recovery is not on the way for the rust belt or other poor Americans. [5]


Nonetheless, anyone who finds themselves in this forgotten class of people should not despair. God is not indifferent. As the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20-26). The poor are no less loved by God. They should take heart that their salvation is still assured and the promise of eternal life is also theirs. God’s Kingdom will not reflect the injustices of this world.


And if someone finds themselves in the upper tiers of society, they should help to correct the indifference (and sometimes outright cruelty) of the elites to those in rural communities. As it says in Proverbs 14:31 “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

[1] “Yale Course Search,” Yale University, accessed (November 11, 2021), https://courses.yale.edu/?keyword=managing%20blackness&srcdb=202103

[2] Joan C. Williams, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class,” Harvard Business Review (November 10, 2016), https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

[3] Amanda Garrett, “Study shows falling life expectancy hitting Rust Belt workers,” Chillicothe Gazette (December 14, 2019), https://www.chillicothegazette.com/story/news/local/2019/12/14/study-shows-falling-life-expectancy-hitting-rust-belt-workers/2631136001/

[4] James Chen, “Rust Belt,” Investopedia (September 20, 2021), https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rust-belt.asp

[5] Patti Waldmeir, “A revival stalled: coronavirus in America’s rust-belt,” Financial Times (May 21, 2020), https://www.ft.com/content/941ddd7e-3654-49e7-9902-21c5ff07c717

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