Tuesday, November 11, 2008

America's Hidden Sickness

I had another one of those days when I realized what separated this country from itself wasn't as visible as skin color or ethnic origin. That's not to say either of those haven't been used as an handy excuse to cover up what really lies at the root of our country's massive social disease--a whole bunch of cultural differences. And yes, I know the nasty kind of hate that is not a cultural difference has been used as an excuse to keep one race down and the other up because doing so conveniently hid a darker secret than color. It's that secret I'm talking about. That invisible one that's oh so easy to hide, that horrid social disease of differences between people.

The secret is that underneath all the convenient bigotry lives the lie that all white people are created equal. Most white people spread this lie as heavily as they do the manure on their lawns--quickly and while holding their noses firmly shut. I ran across this today when I got caught up in reading an online discussion between two people who were arguing from a position of privilege rather than need. It really struck me, as I read their virtual whining, that maybe that's why equality was in the Constitution, that maybe it was more a wish than an established fact, that maybe they hoped if someone wrote it down then future generations might one day be able to live up to it.

Think about it. Who were these people who founded our country? They came from backgrounds where class defined everything, where wealth and poverty were the lines dividing people from each other, where education was for the special and privileged and the peasants just had to do for themselves. Often this doing for themselves ran them straight into the clutches of the only groups who would share their books with them--the unholy intermediaries for respective Jesus cults.

It wasn't a very large step at all to chain up the minds of half the population so they could serve the other half. After all, Mr. Rich White Tobacco farmer who escaped the "tyranny" of intolerance back in merry old England was sure as hell not going to plow his own fields. For that he needed black people and stupid white people. The concept of the rich ruling class acting as overloads to the poor working class didn't remain in England. It came here and began to speak with a different accent, but it never really changed. And it still hasn't.

The only thing that's changed is that there's far more overlords. They come in different shapes and sizes these days ranging from the super rich to the spoiled upper middle class Divas and little Sir Whines A Lots from the burbs. These demi-overlords are still fighting what can only be called a class war with those they deign to be less worthy and privileged than themselves. But they'll never admit it because they can't even see it.

The especially insulting thing about these self-appointed potentates is they have so many excuses for being selfish, so many excuses as to why they must step all over others in order to heal their own wounds, and why everyone just owes them and owes them and owes them. They're like spoiled baby birds that are perpetually hungry and hanging out with their beaks open waiting for their entitlements to kick in. It's always all about them, all about their feelings, all about the things others do to them. And they love being in the middle of an us and them battle because it gives them reason to live out all their personal crap for others to step in.

What pisses me off most about them is that while they are arguing with each other over whose turn it is to get the biggest piece of the pie while everyone around them has to eat crumbs, they miss the real problems facing this country--a rich and powerful group of religious fanatics who want to impose their will on everyone else. They miss the Mormons and Catholics donating money to enforce their will on the private lives of Gays and Lesbians. They miss that their own churches are funding wars meant to strip them of every single little entitlement they grew up with because they are so busy making everyone else pay for their mummy and daddy issues. They miss that a large percentage of the population can no longer afford college educations that their own parents and trust funds paid for. They miss that student loans are based on credit and poor people have crappy credit because they too often had to make the choice between buying food or paying a bill on time, so only the middle class kids qualify easily. The rest have to humble themselves and beg, and in that way are already one step lower on the same ladder.

But none of this matters to the entitlement divas and princelets. They simply do not want to hear they are not equal, that in many cases they are the overlords. They don't want to know that people like me who grew up living in cars or crappy hotel rooms or apartments where half the appliances didn't work and the furniture always leaned, see them as spoiled and selfish and mean most of the time. They don't want to know if someone divided up the country into two equal sides and then said pick your half, they would pick people like themselves, people from their class, people from their neighborhoods, people from their workplace, from their churches, from their clubs, from their schools.

They would not pick those who were less skilled in social rules they grew up learning, or those who dressed differently because they couldn't afford labels or even knew that labels meant more than fit or styling or comfort. They would not pick those who went to different churches because only their religion is tolerant, and they certainly wouldn't pick Atheists because that's just too much for them to deal with. They wouldn't pick those who'd never been to summer camp, who were never in the scouts, who grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn't safe to go outside after dark. They'd never pick those who didn't smell the same as they did, who didn't believe the same as they did, who didn't ascribe to the same set of rules defining political correctness as they did. And they'd certainly never admit any of this, because well, it's just not cool being the overlord in America.

And today I finally had enough of their crap. I read their words as these two little privileged divas went at each other over who had been the most wounded over being excluded by some clique they assumed they were part of and found out they weren't. They complained to me because I was one of the few people left who didn't openly attack them for being stupid, selfish divas and I prefer to be nice rather than mean so they took that to mean I was on some side that agreed with them.

They didn't even see or understand that people like me who are profoundly left of liberal, Atheist, child-free, with an education I bought myself, and a childhood spent wondering where I was going to live next, was used to being looked down on by just about everyone as I was growing up, so I never once thought I was under consideration for this group they desperately believed was their diva-given due. And as the child of alcoholics, as many studies have shown, I avoid conflict. I hate it. I fear it. I run from it. It always meant someone would get beaten, things would get broken and the police would come. They knew nothing of this because they came from a different world. But of course they saw me as their equal because they needed numbers on their side to reinforce their own positions.

But something changed for me today. I saw the real dividing line in this country and it was those two women, those two spoiled little divas who were so upset that not everything was for them, that someone else got something they didn't. I had one of those gag reflexes and I found myself wanting to get as far away from them as I could. But they felt some strange need to cc me on their emails to each other about "the thing that happened." I felt like the servant of those white tobacco farmers who was there because they needed me to plow their fields or something. They've never considered me their equal before so my use to them was as a sort of witness to something I wasn't part of anyway and it made me feel as if I I needed to bathe afterward to wash it off me.

So I unsubbed, put a filter in place so their emails went directly to trash, and then I went and hung out on one of my favorite mailing lists. It's small. It's only been around for a couple years. And we have a lot in common with each other because at the heart of what we want in life is peace, tolerance, acceptance of each other as equal human beings. Every other month we pick someone or something to quietly help. No one ever knows it comes from us and we like it that way. And we're all poor or live so close to the edge we might as well be. But that's why we started our little list group. We figured if we combined the little we could afford, then we could give bigger, we could have a larger impact on what needed help. And it was a way to share ideas with each other on how to heal the planet, how to spread love and understanding, how to help women in countries devastated by war and hunger and disease.

This month we're sharing our mighty combined fortune on a t-shirt that we're donating to a shelter that is having an auction to raise money for abused women. We had a fierce argument over whether we could afford to buy one or two shirts this month, but it was short-lived. We decided on two. I imagine the two divas on the other list are still whining over what they feel should be theirs and theirs alone. It makes me even more glad I left.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bear. I devoured your words, and found them to taste earthy...... Just say NO to diva mentality in all its self-absorbed smallness...... Good on ya.

Bearly Blue Feather