Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Politics of Compassion

Dear readers, I've had so much I wanted to say for so long.  Before I get started, I'd like to offer my love and prayers to the people who have been impacted by hurricane Sandy.  I'd also like to thank President Obama and Governor Christie for doing the right thing.

I barely know where to start, and I am so exhausted I'm not even sure I want to.  I've been rethinking my blog for so long.  I'm sure every blogger goes through this.  They get busy and don't have the time they'd like to devote to it, or they grapple with how much personal information to share.  I do love reading blogs where I feel as if I am getting to know the writer, and I love blogging.  The ability to share and get feedback is a wonderful thing, and I am so grateful to the people who take the time to read my blog.

I have been rethinking my blog since July 20.  That is the day of the shooting in a Colorado movie theater.  I am mystified that people still defend the rights of individuals to own assault weapons.  Every time there is a shooting, it breaks my heart.  

As you know, I've been dealing with a strange illness for the last three years.  My condition is such that at the moment I must remain calm.  The election has been a particularly difficult time for me.  Never have I seen our nation so divided.  Never have I seen Congress act so deplorably and disrespectfully toward the Commander in Chief.  They have blocked many bills that the American people need.  We all know what's going on with Congress, its racism. There I've said it.  The time for racism is over.  They are not hurting Obama, they are hurting the people they are supposed to be representing.  Congress needs to be reminded that they work for us.  It is sickening that they act in accord with their own greedy agendas above the needs of their constituents.

I'm part of the 47% that Governor Romney referred to in his controversial speech.  I live in a very poor neighborhood.  I wish Romney could come spend a day with me and see what I see.  Yes, we need jobs.  But even more importantly, we need education for today's technological jobs.  Even if this neighborhood were infused with jobs, the people are not educated enough to qualify for the jobs.  And they don't have  wealthy parents to borrow the money from for education.

I'm one of the victims of the situation Obamacare seeks to prevent.  I am one of those Americans who got sick and lost everything.  I'm probably not what you think.  If you saw me walking down the street, you'd probably think I was a teacher or a librarian.  I did everything right, I worked hard for many years, often working overtime while putting myself through college.  I paid a helluva lot of taxes.  After many years, I finally got a good job and then I got sick.  My employer did what many employers do at such a time (which is one reason why we don't want to run America like a corporation).  They threw me out like a piece of crap.  Fortunately, Obama had passed the ARRA of 2009.  Thanks to the COBRA subsidies provided by the ARRA, I was able to receive lifesaving surgery.  Looking for help when faced with homelessness was excruciating.  Jumping through the hoops when I was feeling so poorly was almost impossible.  I wondered what people with less tenacity (not that I had much) did.  I was mystified every time I heard the words "safety net."  As someone who needed public assistance, I am here to tell you there is no safety net.  It's a lie.  The system is designed with so many catch 22's it is damn hard to navigate.

I spent many days at the food stamps office.  It was always packed.  My mom asked me if the people in the waiting room looked  like "losers."  When I asked what she meant, she said, "You know, homeless, dirty, crazy-looking people.  You know, like the people we see on the street and ignore."  No, I told her they all looked like me.  Normal, college educated, middle aged women for the most part.  Most single and without family.  Many dealing with illness.

The United States is suffering with a lack of empathy of epidemic proportions.  We need to remember that every one of us will deal with illness or lack at one point or another.  Every one of us will need help at one point or another.  There are times when the strong must carry the weak.  And they must do it with humility and compassion, not resentment and contempt.  They should be cognizant of the fact that it is easier to be in a position of being able to provide help than it is to need help.  And above all, they should be grateful for what they have.  We must eradicate poverty entirely, so that it becomes an impossibility.  And not just in the U.S. but in the entire world.  The poverty of one encroaches upon the comfort of us all.  This is not about class warfare, it's the right thing to do.  The wealthy do not need to be fearful of losing what they have.  But let's face it, a few people could have a little less, so that many people could have a little more.  We need to set aside fear, there is plenty to go around.

Yes, I've been called a naive liberal many times.  But I don't see it that way.  It's simply a matter of doing the right thing.  Making sure that every American has food, shelter, medical care AND education is the right thing.  Setting aside arms is the right thing.  Ending war is the right thing.  Taking care of the environment is the right thing.  Sharing the wealth of the world in a more equitable fashion is the right thing.  If I'm a socialist, then so be it.  But slapping labels on free speech in order to silence it, is cowardly indeed.

What does this have to do with my blog?  Well, I sometimes feel as if I write about frivolous things when the world's people are in need of so much help.  I feel the pull to help change things.  However, I do think focusing on beauty can be an important reminder. For all the horrible things humans do, they also do amazing and wonderful things.  I am always amazed at the artistry of humans.  Writing about art and design can be political.  In fact, all acts are political in one way or another.  Just like all acts are artistic in one way or another.  We are all connected, so politics and art are one.  I believe that's why I love public art so much.  Everyone needs beauty in their life, and there is plenty to go around.  Why don't we just start being more compassionate to each other and make life easier for each other?  It really is just that simple.

There.  It's out of my system.  Maybe I'll be able to sleep tonight.  If you've read this long diatribe, thank you so much for your attention.  If you haven't done so already, please vote for President Obama.


Anonymous said...

Hi Peggy,

I woudl just like to say thank you for this post. I am, in many ways, in a position similar to yours, and I have many of the same political sentiments. Reading these words was uplifting. People may call it naive, but sometimes basic human empathy is one of the most lacking parts of the political puzzle. -Carolyn

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. I'm bookmarking to read it again and again to remind myself that I'm not alone in these beliefs.

Kimia Kline said...

This is wonderful. So happy to have read it, so happy you wrote it. It is about doing the right thing at the end of the day. Maybe this is sexist, but I feel like women understand that so much easier/intuitively than men.

brianne said...

I've had this similar conversation with so many of my girlfriends lately. We are late 20s working professionals. Many of us have busted our butts to put ourselves through professional school (law school, architecture, medicine), but either can't find jobs or don't make enough to get away from living paycheck to paycheck. I'm an architect and most blue collar workers make MUCH more that I ever will. Not to mention student loans. Many of us wonder when/if we'll ever be able to afford homes or children. The thought that working hard automatically means success is a fallacy, and that poor people are automatically lazy is insulting. Thank you for so eloquently stating the opposite side of this assumption.

Jessie said...

Well I read it. I'd rather just email you my thoughts then leave it here. You and I may not agree on everything, but I think we agree on MOST issues. It'd be close. ;) I am glad you shared your thoughts on your blog, because I know it means a lot to you. As far as posting political things on your blog and beautiful things, do what you love and what has meaning to you. That's what blogging is for I think. :)

Peggy said...

@anonymous - Hi Carolyn! Thanks for reading! I love how you put this: "sometimes basic human empathy is one of the most lacking parts of the political puzzle." So true. It really is as simple as doing the right thing.

@anonymous #2 - thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed reading it!

@Kimia - thank you. Yes, I wonder that myself sometimes too. All the old men in Congress talking about women's reproductive organs really baffled me.

@brianne - Thank you for reading your lovely comments! It's a very difficult time to make it, and yes hard work doesn't necessarily ensure success. I'm proof of that. I do believe the younger generation is getting smarter, though. So I feel saddened, and strangely hopeful at the same time. And ah yes, student loans. I am being crushed by those as well. I wrote at length about that in the last election.

@Jessie - hi and thanks for reading! I was so hoping you'd read this. Thanks for always being so supportive!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin