Years ago, an old woman who had lived for many years in a very depressed and neglected neighborhood shared something profound. Something I'll likely never forget.
As we discussed her life and the day-to-day stress of living in poverty, she said, "Larry, we carry our grief in buckets here. Everyone has lost something precious."
The stress of a life caught up in poverty, and all that goes along with that state of living, is something most of us cannot possibly understand.
An essay in The Economist ("I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told," April 4, 2009) gets at the connection between stress and not just poverty, but the role of stress in the transference of poverty from generation to generation.
Here's how the important report begins:
How poverty passes from generation to generation is now becoming clearer. The answer lies in the effect of stress on two particular parts of the brain.
THAT the children of the poor underachieve in later life, and thus remain poor themselves, is one of the enduring problems of society. Sociologists have studied and described it. Socialists have tried to abolish it by dictatorship and central planning. Liberals have preferred democracy and opportunity. But nobody has truly understood what causes it. Until, perhaps, now.
Read more here.