Are people poor because they are not very intelligent?
Or are people not very intelligent because they are poor?
Conventional wisdom in our nation – at least among some of us – has been that people are poor because they are not very smart. They make foolish choices. They are not committed to self-improvement. They are not well-educated.
This story on NPR refers to a recent study by Ivy League smarties which indicates that poor people are just as intelligent as rich people, but the burdens of worrying about money “scrambles our thinking.”
“Being poor takes up more mental capacity,” says Eldar Shafir. This makes total sense to me.
HH and I randomly and happily remind ourselves these days that we are no longer paying both a mortgage (for a house we weren’t living in) and rent (for a house we are living in.) The daily anxiety of carrying this financial load, along with college tuition and other responsibilities was a constant heaviness in our lives. When you’re always thinking about how to juggle expenses, it’s almost impossible to be creative. Honestly, we drive into our (one) driveway these days and feel energized just knowing we can manage. Owing more money than we have makes us exhausted. And a bit addled.
One of the hallmarks of following Jesus is caring for the poor and oppressed. It makes us more Christ-like. And it will make people Christ loves a little bit smarter. This I believe.