It would be entirely too easy to give into this ennui and bury my head in the sand. After all, what can I do with this blog except rant about things that I can’t influence to people who mostly feel the same way? I don’t exactly have a huge audience. I don’t even have resident trolls to keep the dialogue moving.
It would be simpler to avoid the nastiness. After all, I’ve honed that skill to a fine art. I have relatives that “like” things like this on their Facebook page:
Crowds Mass in Washington DC for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Rally.
I mean, truthfully, how do you respond to someone you’re related to who thinks Glen Beck is on to something when you think he’s the reincarnation of PT Barnum? I can’t call this person stupid or any other of the endless list of epithets that come to mind.
So I do what I’ve gotten truly skilled at – I ignore it. After all, if forwarding an email to a family member regarding the health care debate from the White House last year can illicit a diatribe about government propaganda that devolves into a cap and trade screed and then ends with “If you want to talk more, I’m willing. Just don’t forward propaganda”, what other response is there? Rational discussion isn’t possible in the face of this much anger.
It’s not just people that I’m related to by blood or marriage either. It’s the person who works in my building who has bumper stickers on his car like this:
I have no idea who this person is. I’ve never seen him, but every time I see his car, I get pissed off. I feel a strong urge to key his car. Not very helpful, but still viscerally fulfilling, in a temporary manner at least.
In short, I cannot talk to people like this without getting just as angry as they are. Reading their emails, comments on my blog or posts on Facebook fills me with dread and fear and a physical sensation that feels like a knife to the gut. Their fear and anger just breeds more of the same.
I read about people like Beck ranting about “divine providence” or Franklin Graham talking about “the seed of Islam” and wonder how anyone can take these people seriously. The fact that so many do scares me absolutely shitless. I have no desire to reside in a post-modern Christian theocracy. I’m not the “right” kind of Christian. I’d be rounded up with all the other non-desirables - non-Christians, non-Heterosexuals and non-Whites - and sent who knows where in that brave new world.
It’s not just the Religious Right that frightens me, either. There seems to be a movement, one long standing and well cemented in our culture, that believes that everything Government run is bad and everything Private Sector run is good; that corporations deserve to make as much money as their coffers will hold without little things like morality and responsibility to hinder them.
I begrudge no business their right to make a profit but when they do so at the expense of the very people they’ve contracted with or the expense of our environment, they’re thieves of the worst sort. What we allow corporations, like BP and Exxon/Mobil or Humana and WellPoint, to get away with we would never tolerate in our elected leaders. Governments have crumbled in scandals far less than the likes of a Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez.
We call politicians who screw their constituents for money corrupt. We call Michael McCallister, CEO of Humana, and Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint, masters of commerce despite the fact that their companies have routinely cancelled the policies or refused treatment coverage to people in dire need. The two of them earned a combined compensation package – including salary, stock and options, and incentive plans – of $19,617,650 in 2009. Their companies earned $95.9 billion in revenues that year.
But hey, that’s okay. After all, these are for profit companies. They have to make a profit to stay in business. Never mind that they’re all providing a product that this country literally cannot function without. Never mind that while they raise the prices of their products and keep increasing their bottom line through shortcuts and culling of the herd, they pay our political leaders to look the other way.
This wrong on a level so fundamental that I find it incredulous that everyone cannot see it.
No doubt there are those out there who would call me a socialist for even daring to think that the government might be better suited to the job of running health care. I have no doubt there are others who would call me a member of the intellectual elite based on my expressed opinions here. When did having a brain and not being afraid to use it become something our country denigrated? If having a college degree, voting Democrat and speaking out against the demagoguery make me an intellectual or an elitist then I think I’m okay with both of those terms. I embrace them even.
I know that it flies in the face of popular convention when I tell you I attend church regularly and consider myself a Christian but still believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, that all LGBTs should be treated as full and equal members of society including being able to serve openly in the military, that health care is a right not a privilege, that we are a nation of immigrants and stronger because of that fact and yet vote for Democrats more often than not.
I tell you that those things are more Christian than what the Religious Right has brainwashed us all to believe.
We must stand up to the greed-is-good, intellectuals-are-bad, gays-are-out-to-corrupt-your-children and real Americans are bible-believing, gun-toting, Republican-voting Christians meme and shout to the world that there is another way.
If not, then we deserve whatever comes our way in November and all the Novembers yet to come.