Aug 28, 2014

Fast Cars, Poverty, and Education

“You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I became a big fan of Tracy Chapman.  I was smitten by the song “Fast Car”, mostly because it was catchy, folksy, and had some true meaning.  I was in my early 20’s, starting grad school, and gearing up to take on the world.  Much has changed since then, and this summer I spent some time reacquainting myself with old songs and the memories that went with them.  I happened upon Tracy Chapman again in my late 40’s and her song Fast Car.

The song, as you likely know, is about the cycle of poverty.  It describes the plight of a young woman, living in the ghetto without her mother who had left the family, dropping out of school to take care of an alcoholic father.  Partnering up with another soul, she puts her hope in a young man and his metaphorical car to pursue the American Dream. 

“You got a fast car
I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
Won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living.”

As we know, the car doesn’t reach the promised land. The girl discovers her ill-placed trust in someone else failed to elevate her circumstances.  And, she moves on, bitter, unfulfilled, and lonely. 

And, so the cycle of poverty goes, until it is broken, turned upside down, and education is inserted into the mix.  Education is the only proven antidote the world has seen to break the cycle of poverty.  There are no fast cars, no easy ways to change the trajectory of the society. Change requires hard work to alter the very structure of the world.  As Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”

This next week, as Labor Day approaches and passes by, we will be talking about the impact of education on poverty.  We will highlight some key facts and data that might surprise you about the transformational impact of education on culture.  We’ll talk about why education is perhaps the greatest expression of love for another person.  And, we’ll talk how everyone can get involved in promoting education through little and big ways.

Just Cause.  


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