Choir Concerts

It’s concert week for my choir, so it’s been music all the time practically, a good week. Last night was our first performance, and today is our second (and last). I sold more tickets than usual, and I’m sure that’s due to the election. Everyone needs some happy, beautiful music.

The thing is, I was telling a choir friend, singing the words of the carols makes me realize that these days few people think the way the words describe. For example:

Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.

People despise the poor, and think they are to blame for their troubles and their poverty. They equate them with criminals. This isn’t true of everyone of course, but for many, it is no longer honorable to help people who are struggling, unless the struggling person is themselves. In which case they are entitled to assistance, but not those other people. God, I am so negative! It’s because I’ve been researching the system that reinforced the connection between poverty and crime. I’ll be saying this a lot, but while it’s true that poor people commit crimes, they don’t commit them any more than the rich do, the two groups just commit different sets of crimes.

Anyway, I’ve become more aware of the language people use when talking about the poor.

My choir gathering in the gym before the concert.

Choir in the gym

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “Choir Concerts

  1. Ooh, that made me think! Language is so interesting and important.

    Also, when ‘poverty’ or being poor becomes a property of one’s identity, then one is seen as poor, regardless of anything else. We identify with many things, including economic class, but once we identify with a thing, it becomes very difficult to change that part of our identity. Even with something not as fundamental as say gender, like religion, people are loathe to change. That is why some people, who have a fundamental disconnect with their religion, like gay people whose parents brought them up Catholic, stick with the church even thought it is antagonistic to their other identity. (I’m just working through this as a theory right here for the first time, so sorry if I’m scattered.) So, when a person identifies as ‘poor’ then they have a terrible time getting out of poverty. Someone I once knew even said to me, that his father had always told him to say he was ‘broke’ and not ‘poor’ because there’s always a way our of being broke, but not out of being poor.

  2. A good book on living in poverty is Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I read it trying to understand the attraction of Trump, which relates to the way being poor is viewed by the so-called “elite”. All those polls showing the “educated” voter vs. everyone else just divided us more. ( I do blame the press for much of the election fiasco.) Mr. Vance bucked the odds of a nightmare childhood to becoming a marine and then getting a Harvard education. He claims that he is of average intelligence and he wasn’t a good student in grade school. He just had a grandmother that believed in him and he could always count on her. So kids need that self worth from someone to survive… from a teacher, relative, friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *