It seemed that during this last election cycle and the aftermath that followed, the national press, pollsters, and pundits took too much delight in classifying certain sectors of our population as “non-college educated” or “uneducated”.
Rather than being used, and only sparingly, as a demographic category, it instead became a common and dismissive qualifier, a way of looking at the 60 percent of all Americans who don’t hold a college degree.
You could read between the lines – that is, if you weren’t smacked in the face by the outright accusations – that the uneducated were dupes and rubes and, because they lacked a diploma, were unable to make sound decisions about who should represent them in Washington.
Well, I hate to break it to those who think 4 years in a university grants them unprecedented knowledge and understanding, but those who don’t have a degree can be in many cases smarter, better off and better people than those who do.
I can say this unequivocally because almost all of the people in my life are “uneducated”.
I work in a workplace of 200 people where fewer than 10 of us graduated from college. Yet, somehow, despite being an “uneducated” environment, the company and those families are all succeeding. That’s because our ranks are filled by men and women who understand the physical and mental work and ingenuity needed to make the things that consumers desire. They do magic, using science, technology, skill, brain and brawns to transform little plastic beads into mammoth products. We have general laborers, technical personnel and tradesmen here whose breadth of knowledge, intelligence and critical thinking skills would shame most people with degrees.
I am friends with electricians, plumbers, repairmen and first responders who never went to college but still possess incredible amounts of skills -- whether learned by experience or via certificate programs (which the elite still consider to show a lack of education). Yet somehow, they bring services and safety to the highly-educated who couldn’t repair a faucet, replace an outlet, change their oil or fight a fire to save their lives.
I live in a community the economy of which is driven by agriculture. Most of the farmers don’t have degrees, but like my guys and gals at the plant, they have a Renaissance Man’s understanding of equipment, science, and economics. They know what it takes to transform seeds into a healthy harvest, or how to grow calves into living, breathing milk machines. They are working 24/7 and lovingly running their farms better than most people run their businesses and their lives.
I was raised and loved by an extended family who, for the most part, don’t have college degrees. Somehow, those “uneducated” mothers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles raised wonderful high-character families, held excellent jobs, and made an impact in their communities. I am who I am because of who they are and I’m grateful for that and how I’ve turned out.
So, remember, dear media folk and political observers, before going off blasting the “uneducated”, calm yourself down, throw away your vicious, ugly, stereotyping and consider who they are. They are your families, friends, neighbors and coworkers, people who despite their alleged lack of knowledge have the brains that we as an advanced society need to put food in our markets, produce the goods we want and need, fix and build our homes and cars, save our lives, and raise our families and put love in their hearts and our communities.
The “educated” sure could learn a lot from them.
From the 21 November 2016 Greater Niagara Newspapers