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Civics, Class.

October 30, 2012

I blatantly ripped off the title from one of TRMS segments last night.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past weeks thinking about politics because I am a nerd and that is what I do. Last night I spent a lot of time thinking about weather because my hometown was directly in the past of Fronkenstorm. (No I spelled it correctly. It’s pronounced Fronkenstorm.) And my parents aren’t answering the phone. So, I’m a little worried. But this has happened before, some major weather event and I don’t hear from anyone for two days and it turns out they’re fine. I’m not panicking yet.

But these two tracks in my brain have converged in this post. I’m not gonna talk about Mitt Romney and his views on FEMA or the fuckwits who claim that this storm is their god’s will for X pet theory. Nope. I’m going to talk about civics and class.

In the face of major American disasters, September 11th, the Joplin Tornado, Hurricane Katrina, and now this storm; people are asked to keep their civic duty in mind and show a little class. They’re asked to move when the government says move, not tie up emergency communication and personnel with non-emergent issues and generally do what they are fucking told to do when they are told to do it. Basically, all of us are asked to care for each other and not be so quick to put ourselves and our comfort in front of the safety of others.

Be good to each other. Care about your fellow man. This does not seem complicated.

This is where the politics come in.

Apparently, it is complicated to some people. I’ve come to realize that there aren’t that many differences between the Left and the Right of American politics. We all want the same things, food, water, shelter, love and the ability to move up in the world.

But there is a difference. Because everything I’ve seen of the Right makes it clear that despite their claim to Christian thinking, they don’t care in the least about their fellow citizens. Let them drown, let them freeze, let them starve, let their lives slowly deteriorate while we call them lazy freeloaders.

Because it’s important that we make clear to the people most in need that they are less than us. That justifies the refusal to assist them. John Scalzi posted a brilliant and powerful piece on the personal emotional toll being one of the people who are constantly demeaned by one half of the nation.

I’d like to add to this:

Being poor is death. It’s dying from treatable diseases because you can’t afford to go to the doctor and even if you could you couldn’t afford the medicine. It’s cutting your necessary daily dosage of pills in half because that makes them last longer or deciding to take them on an “as needed,” basis only when things get really bad because it’s cheaper. It’s letting things get so bad because of financial concerns that what should be treatable has become fatal. It’s letting your teeth rot out of your head because you can’t afford the dentist.

Being poor is having to justify any good thing you do manage to get. Because no matter how small or how inexpensive the item or service actually was, people assume that you are abusing the system, lying to maintain benefits and undeserving of both aid and basic human courtesy.

When I was in high school my mother was friends with a couple of guys who had a hair salon. They LOVED my waist length naturally spiral curling hair and used me for hair shows all the time. (this was late 1980s/ early 1990s when having a straight friend who would let homosexual you hang out with their teen aged child alone was a rarity and knowing a teen who didn’t care at all that you were gay was as well.)

My hair is, according to them, like clay. Wet it, style it and once it’s dry it stays forever. So they could style me at the beginning of the day and I would stay all lovely curls and buddy buddy with the gay dudes all damn day. I wanted shorter hair. They wanted someone to play with and show off. Everybody won.

Except when I came back from a hair show and people, usually adults, usually teachers or lunch ladies said something like “I thought you were poor! How can you claim to need a free lunch when you get your hair done every couple of months. I know how much cut and color like that costs!”

It was mortifying. Those people were totally wrong but it didn’t matter because they had decided that they knew what kind of money my mother was spending on my hair and that I didn’t deserve to have nice hair because we got lunch assistance. And they made their opinion very clear out loud, in the lunch line, where I was already trying to hid my distinctive FREE LUNCH card.

I was 15.

This has to stop. We have to stop accepting this because if we don’t it will never fucking end. We must require, civics and class out of each other.

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2012 8:19 PM

    Thank you for this. I just wonder how long it is going to take for people to figure out that “looking out for number one and the hell with the rest of the world” is not a viable lifestyle in the long term.

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