COPING WITH THE ANGER ALL AROUND US---A MANIFESTO!
Have you felt it? The anger that throbs as an undercurrent in our daily lives? It seems we have reached a new state of ugliness, all one hair's-breadth away from the flashpoint of rage.
It is a road rage of the most pernicious kind: it is the result of celebrity hype, the constant attention to the media darlings whose personal lives and power-mongering have overshadowed the real problems facing the every day American.
The economy's improvements seem slight to those still out of work or only able to work part-time at a rate below what they were earning a few years ago. Middle-aged workers are particularly hard-hit, as most incentives are to protect young families, which is understandable, but also a bit unfair. Those who've put in the years and were downsized out of the workplace are feeling gypped by a system where they put in their time, hard work and faith, only to find few returns for all their efforts. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are posting record profits, up 56% over last year, due to increased premiums, and more increases are in sight. (Sure, sure, there's nothing wrong with the U.S. healthcare system!) And politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to be name-calling and blame-throwing with no regard for their constituents' wants or needs. (Sure, they'll come back to us in a few months, tails between their legs, and contritely blame the other guys, but right now, they're just having fun in their own pseudo-olympic power struggle.) And the media has spent so much time and attention on the foibles and exploits of Tiger Woods and John Edwards and Mark Sanford that it all sounds like one big sordid tryst.
But who should we be more angry with--the cheaters who made their own mistakes and hurt the people they care about, or the media scavengers who are determined to make US feel betrayed as well, even when these misjudgments are personal matters and hardly an affront to the average American? I mean, would I rather attention was placed on my financial and employment plight and finding solutions to my health insurance woes or would I rather they talked about just how many playmates Tiger accumulated? Let's face it, whatever Tiger's morals are, THAT is not what has placed me and my fellows in the financial, employment and health care hell that we currently find ourselves.
Maybe instead of sitting on our rage--or acting out, only to get ourselves in deeper personal and financial trouble--we need to express it to those who need to hear it. Maybe we need to send verbal slaps to our representatives in DC to CUT IT OUT--keep a civil head and do the work you're getting paid to do or else get out! We're not interested in how bad you make the OTHER guys look--we want YOU to come up with answers and solutions. And if you don't have any, then just shut up and make room for those who DO want to make things better!
We don't want idle threats made to the executives who run their companies into the ground, get bailouts from us and then pay themselves obscene bonuses for their ineptitude! State and federal attorney generals need to probe the misuse of funds. And legislators need to stop protecting their campaign contributors and start protecting OUR funds.
Health Insurance? Whoopi Goldberg has simply and elegantly put it out there: the Congress should stop fighting their dirty, petty little battles and showing off--we don't care. WE WANT WHAT YOU'VE GOT--you apparently have the best health plan in the Nation, but you seem determined to avoid giving us the same consideration.
And finally, to the Media, who seem to delight in deepening our depression mentally and financially: can we please have some positive stories about people trying to make a difference? While everyone screams about transparency in government, the fact is that the media covers the dirty pool and the mud-slinging and celebrity misbehavior but has been sorely lacking in providing any kind of uplift, choosing to make their money through exposing dirt and cynically choosing for us the focus of our attention.
Finally, to the American public--we must reject the level of behavior and disservice shown us. Our continued apathy and our willingness to let others dictate our benefits, our entertainment, and our policies, our willingness to turn a blind eye versus speaking up and demanding what we want is what got us here in the first place. What's the good of fighting for a country of freedom of expression, free enterprise, and freedom to be an individual IF we don't exercise those same rights, allowing others to strip them away little by little. The so-called greatest country now has one of the worst health systems, pathetically low educational test scores, a huge unemployment rate, high divorce rates, high drug and alcohol rates, increased teen pregnancy, increasing infant mortality rates--shall I go on? We have to let the politicians and the media know that we're sick of what they're feeding us. Accountability starts with us--to hold them accountable for what they do with our funds, our rights, our quality of life.
This is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, Liberals versus Conservatives, Fox News versus MSNBC. This is a matter of personal accountability and it starts with each and every one of us.
And finally, to the hate mongers--the Lindbaughs and the Becks and the Palins, those who love to spread snarky fear and contempt but provide absolutely NO real ideas or improvements of their own? Hit the road! You capitalize and rabble rouse for your own gain. You are perhaps the most repulsive of all.
If you pay careful attention, all of the media moguls and politicians have been careful to shut down anything that smacks of cultural or artistic endeavor. Why? Because art and culture increase personal aesthetics, creative problem solving and the deepening and strengthening of the individual's voice. Who is easier to lead? Individuals or sheep?
Don't be led, people. Yes, it takes more effort to take a stand, but it's like everything else in life: if you don't use it, you lose it!