Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Financial Stability Necessary for Rootedness

My niece, like many young people throughout the United States, is having to make a tough decision: To raise her children in the small town where she grew up or to move someplace, anyplace where she can make a living wage.

Frankly, it's not much of a choice. She has to leave her hometown if she wants to make enough money to feed her kids. So she'll eventually go, like I did, to another place where she knows no one and where she'll be at least temporarily placeless. If she's lucky or makes it a distinct priority, she'll be able to put down roots and create a long-term home where her kids can go to school, find jobs, and where she can retire someday. But that possibility is becoming increasingly remote, because few places like that exist any more in our vast suburbanized America. The average American only lives six years in the same place; we move on to other jobs, into better tax districts, into places where the kids can go to school, or where retirement is cheap. Says Amanda Hooykaas, "The new lifestyle of this and future generations is that of placelessness -- conscious or unconscious, intentional or forced separation or alienation from place." It's a human tragedy, because as Simone Weil writes, "To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul."

It's vitally important now to create places again, both individually and as a society, where we can stay for the rest of our lives if we choose. Those places must provide the financial security that is so vital to Place. Says Hooykaas, "To be placed requires trust that a place will be able to provide life and growth for an individual's self and their family through the availability of adequate resources, primarily steady and sustaining income." It's only one aspect of real places, but it is a prerequisite that is often overlooked.


Amanda Hooykaas said...

I love this... thanks for showing me that my words make sense to at least one other person!

Our Founders said...

Amanda your words indeed make so much sense, and you'll be seeing many more of them here on my blog:-)