December 02, 2004

On My Nerves

The other day it happened again. Someone I've known casually for a couple years asks me if I'm alright. It was a kindly meant question, interjected not for the first time into a discussion that touched on politics. You'd be hard pressed to know me for more than a month without figuring out that the subject is of more than passing interest to me.

Are you alright?

And I laugh and make a joke, and say sure, I'm fine. Because I am. And you know what, that just ticks me off. Not being fine, but that I'm the one being asked the question. And as I said, it was kindly meant, but it bothers me for the same reason that all these 'buck up, Democrats' comments have begun to stink like three-day-old fish. Because I'm not one of the people who is most likely to get the shortest end of this stick.

Sure, anything can happen. I could wake up tomorrow and find out that my whole life had suddenly changed, but that isn't the point. I'm not presently starving, I'm not afraid for the rent, I've got health insurance and personal transportation, even a smidge of a tax cut. Sure I've got more debt than I'd like, but I can support the server share for a hobby website and pay for cable, so who the hell am I to complain about my lot in life?

Definitely though, I'm not living in Iraq, watching my country's assets alternately sold to the highest bidder or blown up. Meteors are more likely to hit my apartment than are missiles. My job did not get sent to China, India, Mexico, Thailand, or Honduras, nor am I locked into a poorly lit firetrap of a factory to sew garments I could never afford for 12 hours a day. I'm not an AIDS victim praying to live long enough to see a cure. I don't have to drive while black, worry that I'll get deported to Syria, or be questioned by Homeland Security for taking tourist photos, because just like Timothy McVeigh, I was born with skin that guarantees innocence until proven guilty. I haven't been sold into forced prostitution because my country's economy has been relentlessly crushed to the ground by war or the IMF. I don't get my food from a UN convoy. I don't have uninsured children with chronic asthma that I can't afford to move out of a smog-choked downtown area. My grandparents are well taken care of by more senior family members, and nobody I know myself to be related to is eating cat food or skipping doses of medication. I'm not even depressed, medically speaking.

So I'm alright, personally. I'm one of the lucky ones. What really gets to me isn't even that there are big problems in the world. There have always been problems. It's that I live in the middle of the largest collection of wealth, creativity, and productivity known to man and that very little is being done to solve anything, even when we aren't busy making things worse on balance.

Altruism? No. It's just that anyone who pays attention should realize that sooner or later, there isn't any such thing as other people's problems, and it's better to fix them before they make a house call. Remember Afghanistan? So I guess you could sum the irritation up this way: It's the greedy, blinkered, short-sighted, fear-driven, never-want-to-fix-anything-before-it's-too-late, wasteful, xenophobic stupidity, oh kindly intentioned questioner. We are 'smarter', but our collective decision making can hardly take a step forward without taking two back, just like every other great power in history.

I wasn't pleased about that before the election, no election outcome was going to be any more than a band-aid on that fundamental issue, and I'm not about to start being okay with it now. So it isn't like all that much has changed for me, except the extra helping of grim determination, thanks for asking.

Posted by natasha at December 2, 2004 10:57 PM | Random Mumblings | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

I totally understand. I only want to talk about things that matter to people. I don't get it when people can seem to dance on with their life without paying attention to what it going on for other people and without wanting to know what is happening. This is especially true when so much of the suffering in the world is caused directly or indirectly by our policies (and non-policies) in the world. It doesn't mean I don't also want to notice the beauty of the bird on the branch in front of me or be absorbed in my young niece's delight in learning to climb the stairs. But what is happening matters!

Posted by: Lynn Allen at December 3, 2004 09:05 PM

fight. resist. its what we do, its what we always have done.

fuck em.

Posted by: Hubris Sonic at December 3, 2004 11:08 PM

Well, I for one am glad that you're alright. Of course, you always seemed pretty okay by me, for a girl...

(Hey! Quit hitting!)

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at December 4, 2004 04:11 AM

Seetheforest sent me over here and what a great read indeed. I just had lunch with my Republican friend and she asked me if I had gotten on with my life since the election. I answered pretty much. Inside I was fuming though. I hear everyday about the vote in the Ukraine and I hear nothing here about the fact we can't document if Bush actually won, this is America and we just accept. "There's always been some election fraud" Yeah sure. I am as okay as you are okay, with grim determination. There are a lot of us that are okay.

Posted by: Nancy at December 4, 2004 06:04 AM

So well said; thank you.

Some days things get me really down. It helps that the best people I know of are fighting.

Please keep it up.

Posted by: Patrick at December 4, 2004 06:43 AM

I have come to rely on the perverse notion that Bush &Co. are going to be at the helm when a major economic calamity befalls the world (as predicted by Paul Volker and others of note). That will prove to be the end of Conservative Republicans; at least for my lifetime.

With a Republican Congress Kerry could not have turned this crisis away and we would have been blamed.

Posted by: Don Beal at December 4, 2004 07:53 AM

"Job done. Bush elected. Getting over it?" I think the sympathy is tactical. Instructions to be sypathetic are being followed, with varying degrees of sincerity. There's a germ of pschological manipulation in it. "Republicans feel your pain". Yeah right. Democrats should continue exposing the lies, the deceit, the danger of the neo-conservative agenda. Behind the sympathy is an intent to maintain the division.

Posted by: Artie at December 4, 2004 10:15 PM

I can Identify with the sentiment, bigtime.

There is a scene I am reminded of, in the 1950s Titanic film, "A Night To Remember", when one of the officers, who has just been informed by the ship's Captain and its builder as well, that the ship is damaged, sinking and doomed to go to the bottom within a couple hours or so.
The officer goes up to one of the paasenger decks to begin the process of lowering lifeboats. evacuating people, etc., when he sees a celebrating couple laughing as they stagtger down the deck in a champagne-induced euphoria, unaware that inescapable tragedy and calamity are just hours away.

Sometimes, surrounded by crowds of obtuse people at work, all busily preooccupied by the
daily minutae
of their lives, I feel the same way.

Why aren't they worried about what is going on in our country? Are they blind?

Not to say we're exactly sinking like the Titanic (yet), but clearly, IMO, America is in real trouble right now, and so many folks are still blissfully unaware of America's peril with their "it can't happen here, don't worry, be happy" attitude.

In any case, a whole lot of people are going to have to wake up eventually, whether they want to or not. I just hope they wake up in time to do something positive about it.

Posted by: nikto at December 6, 2004 08:06 AM