I lived in Eastern Kentucky for the first 11 years of my life, and visit there pretty often. I have seen these living conditions first hand. I must say, however, that this is not the norm. Most people in Eastern Kentucky do not live this way. At least not in a material sense. Most people in Eastern Kentucky, the Bowling family included, do share one common trait; strong ties to the family. People seem to only see that these people have no running water, and live in isolation in a "holler," but what people don't often recognize is how present the extended family is throughout this movie, and most likely throughout the entire lives of these people. How many of us can say we could walk to our grandparents house? Personally, I think that would be pretty nice. People don't see what's right though, they see what's wrong. Historically, people love to criticize others who aren't as wealthy and educated as themselves, and this family seems to be socio-economically "below" most of us. That makes it very easy for most of us to call these people a "waste of taxdollars," and to say that they could find jobs if they really wanted to. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no jobs. I know, I've been there. We moved for that very reason. You may be asking yourself right now why they can't move as well. Imagine yourself for a moment with no money whatsoever, and no way to get ahead in life. You can't very well sell your existing house to buy another, (remember, their combined property value wasn't enough to pay the bond for the release of one of the brothers from jail) and you can't move somewhere else without a house to move into. Before being critical of these people (as most are), ask yourself this question. What would I do if I had no money, no education, no transportation and no job? The first thing to do is get a job, right? But wait, I have no education or transportation. Ok, I'll get an education first. Wait, I have no transportation or money. Ok. I'll get transportation. But I need money for that. I'll save money and get a car. Can't do that, because I have no job... It's a vicious cycle. The only way to break that cycle is to start teaching the children that there is a better life, and show them how to get there. Most adults in Eastern Kentucky understand this. The old saying is that they need to teach the 3 R's in school: Reading, Writing and Route 23. And yes, we know that "writing" doesn't start with an "R." It may take a few precious tax dollars for the government to send these kids to college, but I think we can all see that it is worth it.
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