This year marks the 7th annual Bartling lecture in the series of historical lectures. The speaker was John Bouman, a well-known public benefits advocate. Bouman is currently the president at The Shriver Center, where he works to give people opportunities and hope through creating policies and systems to help them succeed. Bouman discussed the war on poverty, but before he did that, he gave the audience some of his familial background. He comes from a family full of pastors and that is where his passion for serving other people originated. After giving some of his personal background, he discussed his involvement with the war on poverty and then he gave some information on the war on poverty from a national view point. He made the point that reducing poverty levels was not about hand-outs, but rather it was about bringing hope to people who have been neglected. Bouman showed how the policies and programs that have been created as a part of the war on poverty have helped reduce poverty rates in America. The point of sharing the statistics that he did was to show that the war on poverty should be continued and that the government should increase its efforts, but in a smart way. This means not spending excesses of money on the programs, but making sure that opportunities are created for the people that need them.
One of the points he made to show the effects that poverty can have on a family was how stress affects people. He explained that a child born into deep poverty can experience stress because their parent’s are stressed about their financial and housing stability. This stress releases hormones that can affect brain development. He called it a type of “birth lottery.” This point made me think of the various psychological and anatomical lessons we have learned this semester and how the brain effects the mind. We have talked about how the mind emerges from the brain processes, but we haven’t talked about how chemical imbalances affect the brain and how that, in turn, affects the mind. This would be an interesting facet of psychology to look into if given the time.
I found the Bartling lecture to be very interesting. However, I did struggle with understanding some of the points that were made because I am not familiar with the terminology used. This did not take away from his main points and his goal of creating opportunities for people, but it did create a disconnect for me at times. Overall, the Bouman presented facts that I did not know before and established his points about the war on poverty very well.