“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
When I worked in schools, I had a teacher tell me that a kid was an asshole. I looked at her like her face was on fire. That kid was not an asshole, that kid was treated like an asshole and was acting accordingly.
Over the years I’ve had countless clients that grew up in poverty tell me about the shameful moments they experienced trying to negotiate the middle and upper class.
If your parents don’t teach you kindness or compassion, where are you going to learn how to negotiate social situations? If your parents don’t teach you to say “thank you” how will you learn when and where it’s appropriate to extend gratitude. If your parents don’t teach you or show you how to eat properly, where will you learn to do this?
If your parents or family don’t value education or teach you how to critically think, how will you learn to do this? What’s more, what about kids that are actively discouraged from education or learning?
If you’ve lived your life in the well insulated middle or upper class caste it’s easy to assume that everyone shares your life experience and “should just know how to act” but this is not the case for millions of American children.
We are not born with manners, education, and social etiquette. Those are taught. Often, by the time a child reaches school age they have already started learning from their family culture.
That kid wasn’t an asshole, he was doing what he was taught and really confused as to why it “works” at home and gets him in trouble at school. And, the approval of his family always mattered more.
Consider the context before you judge.