To Hell with Anna!

Hell Station, Norway. Photo: Alasdair McLellan, 2008

J.D. Vance gave a passionate appeal in a TED talk about America’s forgotten working class.

Vance is a working class person who was given a break, and was able to pull himself upwards into the middle class, as a Yale educated lawyer. He has not forgotten his roots.

Vance says working class youth need help in two areas.

The first, is to provided with “social capital” (or what I would classify as informational capital). Perhaps they don’t need to know how to make a bed. They do need to know how to wash bedding, and to do it regularly. There are probably a thousand other life skills that need to be learned as well.

The second is more difficult. They need a trauma free environment. They need someone to ensure that they are not beaten or abused in any way. Sometimes it is as simple as finding a quiet space for homework. Sometimes it is considerably more complex. The most important line in the talk described childhood trauma as “the gift that keeps on giving.” There has to be some way to stop the generational transfer of childhood abuse.

Fiction, in the form of a novel, play or film is one way to provide help to youth with the above needs. One suggestion is “To Hell with Anna”, set in the village of Hell, Norway. At the start a dysfunctional Anna, living in squalor, finds a temporary solace in alcohol. The story documents her transformation from addict to plumber.

The main purpose of writing this work is to help young people make their own personal transformations. Of course, it should be written, performed as theatre, or performed on video by youth themselves.