a child, my weekends were divided between two very different
worlds. On Friday after school, my father brought me and
my siblings to stay with his parents in their one-bedroom
Queens apartment. Grandma Rachel would tell Grandpa Ben
to stop kvetching about his life: how tired he was of
getting up before dawn to open the small bindery shop
he owned; how his one employee, a member of the printers'
union, had more financial security than he; how the lottery
tickets he bought each evening never got lucky.
Sunday morning, we three
children were then scooped up by our mother to dine with
her parents in their stately apartment by Central Park. After being served roast
beef by the live-in housekeeper, Grandpa Arthur would
insist that we sit up straight and regale us with stories
from his and Grandma's latest travels. He'd wink and say
he hoped that someday I would become a doctor like him.
Why didn't my two sets
of grandparents, each of whom I loved dearly, talk to
each other? Why didn't my mother's parents (who often
helped us out by buying school clothes for us and a car
for my parents) try to make life easier for Grandpa Ben?
Why did Grandpa Arthur seem to judge my father so bitterly
for "not supporting his family better?" A shy child anyway,
I never asked these touchy questions out loud, and the
divide between my loved ones remained an icy crust over
As an adult, and someone
who listens daily to people with wealth as they puzzle
out how to create empowered lives and share their gifts
with others, I have come to recognize how powerful, pervasive,
and unspoken are the issues of class that divide us from
others--even if we have regular contact with people from
different classes. In this issue of
More than Money
we venture onto this tender turf.
We open with a brief overview
of class groups in the United States that offers some basic
vocabulary and concepts for thinking and talking about
class. The personal stories that follow are fewer and
longer than in many previous issues. Although they reflect
some of the pain and pitfalls of reaching across class
barriers, we chose to largely highlight cross-class relationships
that embody some joy, thoughtful risk-taking, and mutual
respect. The closing articles put the stories in wider
social context and provide concrete encouragement to those
who wish to build deeper cross-class relationships or
challenge economic inequality politically.
Although we have included
various voices, these pieces--given our mission--are primarily
from the perspective of wealthier people. Limited to sixteen
pages, we accept that we cannot offer a full analysis
of class, or include every kind of important relationship
affected by class differences (including the large subject
of romantic relationships which we highlighted in issue
5, "Money and Couples" and will touch on again in issue
19, "Women With Wealth"). We
have included, however, stories about cross-class relationships
with employees, neighbors, church members, housemates,
colleagues, and members of the same family.
We hope you are inspired
by this issue to connect more meaningfully with people
across the class divide. As I learned growing up in a
cross-class family, most of us have opportunities close
to home to help heal social rifts, an essential part of
helping to heal an ever more fractured global community.
--Christopher Mogil, for
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