Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The view from here

A small group of us just got done watching the last debate at Ms. May's (a 24-hour bar about a block away). I got a little uppity when the education question was asked, and Senator McCain tried to express that vouchers, choice, and competition were the answers to what was wrong with our public education system. Sorry, John, but "choice" only works if every student has the opportunity to make that choice regardless of where they live or what tax bracket their parents fall into. And leaving the opportunity up to the luck of the draw or lottery is just plain irresponsible. We're better than that.

You know what cracks me up about the current financial crisis? I know, people who weren't suffering before are going to suffer now, and I feel badly about that. I really do. But you know what? There have been plenty of people in this country for years who struggle economically every DAY. People that we typically ignore. People that have never dreamt of owning a home, with or without a sub-prime mortgage. People who don't own stocks in a 401K plan or an IRA. But they manage to save money anyway. And now their tax dollars, like yours and mine, are being used to save the very companies and greedy individuals who have 'destroyed the hopes and dreams of so many members of the middle class.' But does the media talk about them? No. Do either one of the candidates acknowledge that poverty exists in the form of these people, with all efforts geared towards making the "middle class" the primary issue in this economic crisis? No. And that cracks me up. And it pisses me off. I want my candidate to tell me what he is willing to do for people who are WORSE OFF than me, not what he's going to do FOR ME. Maybe I do have a few thousand dollars less to retire on, but I'm not close to retiring yet. If you are, I am really sorry. And I understand it's not your fault. But don't try to convince me that you or I are now the most "at risk" population in our country. Don't insult me like that.

Today, I had some time to think about why I keep coming back to the gulf coast, and to New Orleans in particular. And one of the primary reasons is just what I was talking about. Many of the people here have almost nothing to show for their lives of work and toil. Some lost it all in the storm. Others never had it. Some can put their entire life into a violin case, or a trombone sleeve. And that's okay for them, because it's all they need. They don't have stock portfolios. And they are happy. They smile at you, and play amazing music for you, and give you a little extra just to show they appreciate you smiling back. Even if you don't drop a dollar in the case. I wish we didn't have to learn this lesson in such a harsh way. And for some, repeatedly. It makes me believe that we are getting exactly what we deserve. So don't try to convince me that our suffering is greater just because it garners more attention. Don't insult me like that.


tb said...

yes indeed. great post -- and it reminded me of your soapbox speech after the debate that night.

we really need to do better than that...

Grounded Girl said...

I wonder what is wrong with our culture that we surround ourselves with Things and emblems of "security", somehow believing that happiness and safety lie in possessions and portfolios. I have found that the most profound times in my life were the times when I had the least security. I was less insulated from the blessings of community, more connected, by necessity, with the faith that I would be taken care of. The more I was forced to test that faith, the more true it became.

Quakers have a testimony of simplicity, which is why, long ago, they dressed in grey, black and white. Once Friends started to become successful merchants, they upgraded those drab colors in the finest silks. They quickly realized that, while outwardly simple, they had actually become caught up in worldly concerns and therefore the "simple" dress was abandoned.

I'm not advocating for poverty-- heaven knows it is fantastic to have the security of a regular paycheck, adequate health insurance, and a solid roof over my head-- but I wish our culture would have more regard for Enough and place greater emphasis on relationships... kinda like making eye contact on the street, rather than using technology to remove oneself from the environment ; )