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[personal profile] valancy_jane
I saw the other day this scintillating message on the back of some person's shirt:

HAVE A DREAM
SET A GOAL
GET TO WORK


I am admittedly unreasonably irritated. It just seemed like so much doggerel you hear: pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Get a second job. You Can Do It!

I know that it's meant to be motivational; inspirational; even supportive (behold! you're working! it'll happen!). And I do that; I mean, I work full time, and I have a child, and I squeeze in spare seconds to write and take pictures.

But I can't help but feel it's part and parcel of that greater absurdity at work in this U.S. culture, where all problems are yours and any failure on your part could never be blamed on the system. This underlying fallacy that we are all universally healthy; universally without small children; universally able to somehow create time and afford to do all these things we long to do. That in general people are not subsumed with finding a way to pay for shelter, afford decent food, care for their children. That somehow if you pushed just a bit harder you could squeeze in time to do...great things. (Interestingly, this article shows that knowledge of how bad your situation is--poverty-wise--may actually interfere with your ability to think clearly. I would add that it also strangles creativity.)

It's this idea that we are all our own islands, that the great American way means that, like with Laura Ingalls' father, true happiness is when our neighbor is far enough we cannot hear his gun when he goes hunting. Neglecting to remember that she and her sister nearly froze to death, nearly starved to death, and that her sister, for lack of modern medical care (and even had it existed, the inability to afford it, I think), went blind.

I so wish we were less blind.

Then again, maybe the t-shirt's font had something to do with it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-10-10 04:54 am (UTC)
rinue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rinue
Distressingly, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books were ghostwritten/cowritten without credit by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who was a rabid libertarian and as important to the founding of that movement as Ayn Rand, and who absolutely shaped the books to not include any government assistance, which completely happened. Blind sister for instance spent 8 years at a federally funded school for the blind, the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.

I've been troubled by the extreme individualism you're pointing out, but have lately focused on the other end: not the blame placed on the poor and starving for not working hard enough, but the assumption that the wealthy are also only responding to external incentives, which not only gives maximizing wealth moral weight (I made money, so I must have been right) but is a very strange and evil view of humanity.

What I mean is that it will never serve my personal financial interest to protect the poor rather than to protect the rich; I will get promoted for running my employees into the ground because it will mean I'm a miracle worker who "improved efficiency." Sure, in the long run, that's going to tank the company, but who cares? By then I've got mine and moved on.

But I also mean that I'm terribly offended by all the media coverage that assumes what I care about in the government shutdown is art museums being closed rather than babies and crippled old people starving to death. Because, I mean, I go to art museums, so that must be more important to me, right? I couldn't possibly be upset that people are being hurt who aren't me.

I don't actually have a Representative in the House right now; I'm in the 5th district of Massachusetts, and our Representative was Ed Markey, who we just jumped up to Senator (because we needed to fill John Kerry's seat when he was jumped up to Secretary of State. And we'd just had the Senatorial election to get Elizabeth Warren. The past year has been nothing but gaps in having representation for people who live at my address. Almost any issue where it's like "write your congressperson!" I've had to go "well, can't right now actually.") Democratic primary is next week.

In all the campaign ads - and all the campaign ads for the Senate races before - it's been "I'll fight for the middle class." I am tired as hell of hearing about the middle class. I do ok, you know? Not great, but ok. Nobody and I mean nobody is saying "vote for me and I'll take care of the poor." It's making me mad as hell. Yes, it would be great if women made the same amount of money as men; as a woman I love that. Yes, I support gay rights and am a member of the gay community. But is that as urgent as making sure food stamps go out in time, or that undocumented immigrants are legalized as soon as possible so that they aren't treated as literal slaves in fear of their lives? Hell no.

I am tired of people thinking that the way to get my vote is to bribe me by making my life better, or by telling me that I am better and more deserving, rather than by promising me the government will take care of the tens of thousands of people who are drowning with no way out.

And almost all of these people claim to be Christians. That hurts me a lot.

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July 2015

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