Theological Implications

The “Missing Class” often has employment and can afford the very basic necessities of life: shelter, food, and transportation. But the economy, and material goods, are “only one aspect and dimension of the whole of human activity… The life of man, just like the social life of the community, must not be reduced to its materialistic dimension, even if material goods are extremely necessary for mere survival and for improving the quality of life.” (CSDC 357) The fear of falling into poverty has plunged the “Missing Class” from living up to a fullness of life; economic insecurity has forced a reduction of life to the focus on material survival. The “Missing Class” does not lack the basic rights of survival but they are missing a fullness and other rights that are inherent to the dignity of the person: “A right to work, and to derive from that work the means to support oneself and one’s dependants; the right to establish a family and to live in a united family; and the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth.” (CSDC 155) The “Missing Class” of Falmouth, through the familial and educational systems currently in place, suffer from an infringement upon these rights, and, as such, suffer from a failed recognition of these rights and a complacency that allows encroachment upon their dignity and the dignity of all human persons.

The fullness of life is derived from an understanding and an acknowledgement of the dignity of each human person. Human rights are to be defended “as a whole: protecting them only partially would imply a kind of failure to recognize them.” (CSDC 154) This is the failure in policy regarding the “Missing Class”. Policy is missing; there is a failure to recognize the human rights, because there is a failure to recognize the extent to which rights should be protected. “There is a gap between the “letter” and the “spirit” of human rights, which can often be attributed to a merely formal recognition of these rights.” (CSDC 158) There are laws protecting against unemployment, and against absolute poverty, there is health care protection for those who absolutely cannot afford it, but these laws cover so basic a minimum that the rights are not fully recognized, nor the intent fully achieved, but rather the protection in places is a mere formality. The “Missing Class” needs assistance to achieve a fullness of life, yet they are denied these basic rights from both ends: economics prevent the achievement of rights through hard work, and the assistance necessary to obtain certain ends is also blocked by an absolutely destitute minimum. Thus the “Missing Class” is perpetually striving to reach beyond their present state of limbo, but is always dangerously close to falling below the line above which they hover.

The “Missing Class” is constantly striving to reach beyond their current station: working in low paying jobs and holding multiple jobs to keep from plummeting. They manage to provide for their families, and yet it is through shear determination that they do so, their jobs do not grant them the right to “derive from work the means to support oneself and one’s family,” because though economically supported, the hours invested deprive the family of all other means of support.

The family is the most basic social and sacred cell in society. It is in this environment of the family that individuals grow and develop so that they can contribute to the good of society. “The parents’ love places itself at the service of children to draw forth from them the best that is in them.” (CSDC 239) The parents presence within the family is integral to the growth and development of children. Economic life cannot be absolutized, because in forcing economics, other dimensions of human dignity and development are stunted, and the dignity of all lost to the forces of materialism.

The parents, in their presence in the home, have a “right and a duty to educate their children [that] is “essential.”” (CSDC 239) “They are the first educators of their children.” (CSDC 240) In Centesimus Annus, John Paul II links family and education as one. “The family and education,” contributes to the common good and the family constitutes the first school of social virtue. (CSDC 238) The Parental education incorporates more than a growth of intellect, but a growth in moral, religious and social dimensions as well.

Education has been formed “to prepare for professional life.” (Gravissum Educationis 5) Education, therefore, passes beyond the realm of the family. The parents remain the primary educators, but schools establish a center whose work and progress must be shared together by families, teachers, associations of various types that foster cultural, civic, and religious life, as well as by civil society and the entire human community.” Schools begin to play an essential part in the formation of students. A school that fails to motivate, or to help students achieve the fullness of their person, fails in their mission. Falmouth High School failed its 33 drop outs, and fails each student for whom it does promote personal dignity and talents.

“Maintaining employment depends more and more on one’s professional capabilities.” (CDSC 290) Employment, steady employment, in which one income can actually support a family becomes key. Education is the key to moving beyond night shifts, and double shifts. Education begins to ensure opportunity, and thus “cooperation between the family and the scholastic institutions takes on primary importance.” (CSDC 240) The development of children, in all their aspects is the goal of society. In fully developing children, society prepares them to enter society and to contribute to the common good, meaningfully and constructively.

The “Missing Class” of Falmouth is stuck. Individuals become lost in the immediacy of economic demands. Economics dictate their lives, and they are unable to move beyond and reach the fullness of person in a life beyond precariousness and beyond material concern. Education and the family are linked, the economic hardship of Falmouth’s “Missing Class” grates upon the solidity and solidarity of the family, playing education and familial obligation against each other.