Sunday, July 09, 2006
Wake up, dammit
They want to tiptoe walk around it.
Wave the flag and mindlessly salute.
So, I'm having lunch with a friend today. She's a smart woman. She's educated, articulate, the very model of modern middle-class America.
And she's got no clue what's going on in the world.
We were talking about me looking for a new job (which I do endlessly) and I mentioned I couldn't live in South Dakota or Kansas and I really needed to move out of Louisiana. And she asked why not Kansas or S. Dakota? ('Cause no one questions why I need to leave Louisiana, oddly enough.) And I mention the new abortion laws in S.D and how the attorney general in Kansas keeps trying to get medical records from clinics that perform abortions and she's like What?
So, I explain everything to her. And she's like...that's stupid. Well, duh. But she was also like, well I can't really take a position on abortion. But she also says she'd never force a woman to have a child against her will. And she looked kinda freaked when I told her that made her pro-choice. Because the other side has done such a good job corrupting what pro-choice actually means that people who are pro-choice don't even realize it! And when I told her what some places are trying to do with birth control (the whole pharmacists can refuse to fill scripts bit) she was like...that's dumb. Well, duh.
But she doesn't know any of this unless I tell her. If she didn't have me as a friend, she'd blithely go about her life not thinking about any of this. Or about how the President blatantly violated the 4th Amendment with his wiretapping programs. Or how his lies to get us into war are certainly grounds for impeachment. Or about any of the shit going on in our world. Because she just...I don't know.
I keep trying to figure out how this happens. How do people who are otherwise intelligent people become so completely disconnected with what's going on in our country? She doesn't like the president. She doesn't like what he's doing. But she doesn't know why she doesn't like it. It's just a vague sense of dislike. Which is good, but...if you don't know what's going on, how can you make informed choices?
This is how bad things happen. When good people don't pay attention, dictators take over. The truth is, most people are decent, good people. They don't want to hurt others, they don't want to force their views on other people. They just want to be left alone to live their life in peace and they want for other people to have that same right. And my friend, like a lot of people, really thinks that all this stuff doesn't affect her. She's fairly certain, if she got pregnant, she'd have the baby even if it wasn't planned. Which is great, for her. She's got a good job, she's got a house of her own, she's got a family that would support her. She could have an unexpected child with no more trouble than most children bring. (Unless, of course, she got sick or there was something wrong with the baby...we didn't even get that far into the conversation.)
But the problem is, it doesn't matter if these things don't affect you. They affect other people in profound ways. They contribute to a society where the poor are seen as disposable, as somehow less than. You can see it all around, if you just open your eyes and look. The whole immigrant debate just makes my blood boil. If we'd just enforce the laws we already have, this wouldn't be an issue. If we stopped treating our neighbors like our enemies, this wouldn't be a problem. The fact is migrant workers contribute to our economy is important ways (especially here in the south), take those people away and you're not going to find enough willing Americans to take their place. Oh, there are doubtlessly people who are willing to do their jobs. I don't doubt that at all. But I do doubt they're willing to work for the wages the immigrants will work. I doubt they'd be willing to be paid in cash, so the business owners don't have to pay taxes on them. Some of them might, sure. But not in the numbers necessary. So, how about instead of making this all about punishing "those people" we stop acting like idiots and figure out a way for everyone to get what they want in a way that benefits everyone?
What's with the need to punish? Does that ever work? And if it did work, wouldn't it have worked by now? Where does the urge to be all alpha and dominating come from? I mean, for gods sake, Mexico is our friend! They're not our enemy. If we were willing to work with them, we could come up with a plan that would strengthen both our economies, build some ties that will help us with the rest of the world and you know, not be such asses.
The thing is, I don't think most people actually think about things. I think they go about, not aware of what's really going on, and so long as they have the things they want or think they need, they just don't see "those things" as important. Which is really sad, because eventually, it's going to affect the way they live. (Like, right now, it's nearly impossible for me to find a new job. It shouldn't be. I've got a MA and almost 10 years work experience. But it's almost impossible for me to even get interviews. If I wanted to do low skilled work, sure, I could find that. I could get a job at a burger joint or something. But finding something that pays the bills? Nearly impossible. And that's a direct result of the screwed up economy we've got going on now. It's cheaper to hire people just out of college than to hire someone with experience and companies know it.)
Here's the thing -- believe whatever you believe about the world and politics, but know why you believe it. I respect anyone who has a veiw different than mine if they can explain to me why they feel that way. I won't agree and it's doubtfull anyone is going to pursuade me otherwise, but I can respect it. We can have a discussion about things in a way that doesn't turn into insulting and yelling. But you have to know why you think things. You need to be aware of the influences at work. You need to realize that a lot of what we see or are told here in this country isn't the full story. You need to be willing to listen to other people in other places talk about their lives and experiences and how what our country has done has affected them. Have your beliefs, whatever they are, but have them because you really believe them and you've thought about them, not because it's how things have always been or because you don't think "those things" affect you. Because they do and they will and if you don't know who you are and why you hold your beliefs, you're going to be a really easy person to lead around by the nose.