The ultimate source of all of our problems is sin. That’s a basic Christian doctrine. It’s not that guy over there, it’s not the Illuminati, it’s not what your mother didn’t do for you when you were a baby. It’s sin.
Now, all of those things I just mentioned can be real evils that deserve rectifying, but they are still the result of sin. So attempts to fix ourselves, our nation, or our world that place the blame on something other than a disregard for God and His Word are bound to failure. Wrong diagnosis, wrong cure. Thus goes humanism, Islam, communism, et al.
Sin lives in each human being. It is inherent in every part of our persons — our minds, emotions, souls, bodies. Ergo, we need Jesus Christ to save and renew every part of us, not just “the part of me that will live forever.” That phrase and its ilk are fortune cookie-style doses of bad theology. Every part of you will live forever. The only question is whether you’ll be completely sanctified and blissful, or completely given over to your sinful desires, and tormented.
I bring up these maxims to discuss the state of the white lower class today. In looking at ourselves and our brethren, I want to avoid pinning the blame primarily on someone else. Yes, we and our kinfolk have plenty of adverse circumstances to deal with that have been ginned up by malicious parties in the press, banks, government, and other forces. But ultimately whether we give into their machinations is our choice for which we will have to make an account before God. In other words, it’s our choice whether or not to sin. People can pressure us into choosing to sin, but it’s still our choice, and our responsibility.
When looking at the white lower class, it is deeply tempting to blame other people for their problems. Substance abuse, illiteracy, poor manners, poor hygiene, addictions to electronic stimuli, low aspirations, and connections to the wrong morals, wrong theology, and wrong people-group are among the defining features of the white lower class today. These problems have borne real, bad fruit that even the normally antagonistic press reported on sympathetically.
In November 2015, two Princeton economists reported that in analyzing demographic data, they stumbled across the fact that among all the demographic groups in the country, the one group with a skyrocketing mortality rate is middle-aged, lower-class whites with a high school education or less. They are dying at such huge rates that they have skewed the entire U.S. white mortality rate.
Dr. Deaton had but one parallel. “Only H.I.V./AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this,” he said.
For those old enough to remember the impact that HIV/AIDS once made in our culture (before the days of readily-available, life-prolonging medicines for those with the disease) that statement is powerful. What Deaton was saying was that an entire group of people was being wiped out by something — in the case of homosexuals years ago, it was HIV/AIDS, and for poor whites today, it’s despair.
Suicide and drug abuse had led to the sharp rise in mortality rates for middle-aged whites, said the researchers. But what could lead to suicide or heroin use among middle-aged people long past the days of experimenting with drugs, and of participating in high-risk activities on a dare? Despair.
Dr. Deaton noticed in national data sets that middle-aged whites were committing suicide at an unprecedented rate and that the all-cause mortality in this group was rising. But suicides alone, he and Dr. Case realized, were not enough to push up overall death rates, so they began looking at other causes of death. That led them to the discovery that deaths from drug and alcohol poisoning also increased in this group.
They concluded that taken together, suicides, drugs and alcohol explained the overall increase in deaths. The effect was largely confined to people with a high school education or less. In that group, death rates rose by 22 percent while they actually fell for those with a college education.
It is not clear why only middle-aged whites had such a rise in their mortality rates. Dr. Meara and Dr. Skinner, in their commentary, considered a variety of explanations — including a pronounced racial difference in the prescription of opioid drugs and their misuse, and a more pessimistic outlook among whites about their financial futures — but say they cannot fully account for the effect.
The people in question have reported more physical pain, more substance abuse, more poverty, and more mental illness or difficulty coping with life, than earlier generations of poor whites had. They have plenty of good reasons to report these things. Earlier generations didn’t have to contend with high fructose corn syrup in almost literally everything they eat or drink, or ubiquitous pornography and licentiousness, or the public eradication of national, ethnic, and familial norms. They didn’t have to contend with a federal government that waged an unrelenting war on them and their posterity (unless, of course, you were a Southerner during and after the War).
Nonetheless, these adverse circumstances are just that: circumstances. The power of choice, of free will, or moral agency, remains. Unless we are to give into a materialistic-deterministic worldview, we must say the problem with the white lower class is that the members of the white lower class have chosen to sin by depending on drugs, alcohol, food, and so on rather than God. By looking to mass media for joy and inspiration, rather than to God’s Word and the good works He gives us the ability and duty to perform.
For as much as we may want to and should push back against those ginning up these awful circumstances for our people, we must simultaneously plead with our people to make right choices. As mentioned in my review of Hillbilly Elegy, the answer is not to eradicate this class of people through miscegenation or permanently cripple them through false sympathy, but to uplift them by connecting them to the living God and the proud history with which He has gifted our people. Otherwise, even if by God’s grace and mercy we overcome the enemies of our people, we will still be oppressed by the sin living within our hearts, and it will once again destroy our communities.