A lot of politicians and congressional members have been making the headlines in some of the worst ways lately. Headline making behavior like writing treasonous sounding letters of hate and rebellion against diplomatic talks directly to Iranian leadership. Making the phrase "climate change" an unrecognized term when talking about Earth science. Trying to declare Christianity the state religion. Submitting legislation that proposes punishing homosexuals....wait for it...for being homosexual. There are even some senators out there who believe wage disparity doesn't exist.
I cannot reconcile the general air of selfish interest with our country's reputation of being a land of opportunity. When I look at my fellow countrymen, I see a lot of frustration, and even when speaking to them there is an obvious problem with recognizing the larger good. The important unity of being a country is forgotten. The benefit of wanting to take care of one another isn't even on the table for consideration.
It's like a scene from the Coen brothers' movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
"I've got to do for me and mine!"
This is the depths of survival no one wants to be a part of, and definitely not own their part of. You hear this mentality when discussing coal reforms with boilermakers. They have bills to pay and kids to feed, but who cares about the environment once their children are grandparents. It's hard to miss the misgivings in tone when discussing universal healthcare with conservatives. Why would they want to invest in their neighbor's health? Why pay more taxes to finance better health services for everyone, including their future family members? After all, it's not like their neighbor does anything for their family...like, say, paying taxes to support schools the childless neighbor doesn't even have any children attending.
"Me and Mine."
That's all I hear on the radio news. It's the underlying message that is consistently peddled in political legislation so riddled with pork barrels, I don't know if any bill that is funded actually has money for anything but the special interest groups that pushed it through. This ridiculous battle cry is all I hear in churches that preach on about needing more God in schools, courthouses, and state offices. It's become the go to excuse to abuse your neighbor, financially struggling waitress, aging mother, and your aspiring student in college.
You need help affording food? Can't you do it yourself? I've go to look out for me and mine.
It's a sick delusion of one against all. That somehow, going it alone and only looking out for yourself will yield you the best opportunity and results. Isolation brings success? In what country am I living? In what reality am I living? Surely not the America that bound itself together to become its own nation despite differences of opinion or practice. Definitely not the United States that recognized the right of the individual above the majority rule. Not the country that has emblazoned on our welcoming mother of liberty:
"Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed, to me: I left my lamp beside the golden door." - Lazarus
Where am I? Where are these embittered denizens of long ago Rome's hierarchical class coming from? HBO and Showtime? Jerry Springer and The Voice?
How did they get here and turn my world into a piranha filled tank of Hammurabi-esque reasoning?
Fine and imprison gays. Treat immigrants as a nuisance. Act like food, shelter, and healthcare are merely privileges. Demand all citizens live by one ideology. All because, just like the big corporations, no one is willing to sacrifice any part of their bottom line. Not even for future generations of their own progeny. No. Them against the world. Everyone is within a delusional combat pit, fighting battles that wouldn't exist if they put their resources together.
"I've gotta look out for me and mine!" ,they cry.
Without "me and mine" (and everyone else's for that matter), you wouldn't have the products you love to buy. You wouldn't have emergency services. You wouldn't even have your job, probably. If we have to invest in you, the least you can do is say thank you and try to do the same for us.
I especially have a beef when the religious blather on about End Times and Heaven's second coming. If they genuinely believed this crap, then let Caesar have what is Caesar's. Why does it matter if you are taxed into poverty? You'll have the eternal buffet of the wedding feast. Why do you really care if homosexuals want to marry? They'll be in Hell later anyway, and not your concern. This blatant abuse of logic tells me the "me and mine" attitude is just a front in religious circles. It's the pitiful caterwauling sound of being imaginably oppressed so they should be able to fight back by being bigoted towards those not in their cults.
America is not what I remember from my youth. And with the advent of social networking it seems it is even more changed from a decade ago. I feel like H.G. Wells' time traveling scientist. Every place I go, as every year passes, my country changes to a land of bizarro attitudes and social standards, and I feel more rejected, unaccepted, belittled, and unwelcome. It's like trying to find a seat in the cafeteria in a high school and everyone literally enjoys seeing your rejection.
Maybe it isn't so much change in the world, but my growing maturity that is picking up on more details in the scenery of society that I hadn't noticed before. Either way, I don't like it, and someday I really can see myself being the same way in return in order to preserve my sanity.
If you can't beat them, join them, right?