I believe that I have no class. This is to say that my husband and I are “classless”, and proudly declare ourselves an unpredictable cross fertilization between the American “working” and “middle” classes. How else could I explain the fact that he drives the shiny new car for his job while I’m either peddling a bicycle, or manning the old red truck with the crooked fender? What about my equal affinity for red wine…and primitive camping? Or his love of
Zen Buddhism and paintball shooting? Or how my daughter goes to a public school instead of a private one, and that we prefer to take her to fine Indian restaurants over fast food joints? Or that we both know the rigor and humility that comes with hard, dirty work and a sense of “faith” in something greater than ourselves, but also deeply value knowledge and reason.
I don’t believe that social class can be sharply defined for anyone, by anyone. Can a few labels really get to the bottomless inner earth of the homeless man on the street or the corporate CEO?
For the first time in my life I am able to volunteer for someone whose family is not as well off as mine. When I was ten years old, I remember reluctantly accepting Christmas charity given to us by an “anonymous” donor. Along with the plastic hair clips, the food and the sweatpants, I was forced to understand the meaning of “poor”, and we were it. I realized then what it felt like to be set apart from those that somehow seemed better equipped for life.
Regardless of our education levels, our upbringings, the work we do or the neighborhood we live in, our annual household income and even our values and beliefs, we somehow find a way to give our lives meaning and purpose in spite of it all. History may classify people a certain way, but I think that people are truly unable to be summed up by the figurative color of a collar.
By a combination of choice and circumstance, we are like one of those quirky looking bridges built between two lifestyles and mindsets.
Through the social “mutts” that we are, I’d like my daughter to have a fundamental grasp on two worlds that are perpetually dependant on each other for their livelihood.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.