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Friday, September 30, 2011

Reach Out

I was reading an opinion piece by a small business owner the other day, and afterwards I girded my loins and read the comments. I usually go out of my way to avoid reading comments, because life is too short to seek out haters, but I was feeling kinda feisty.  I found one comment in particular fascinating; the writer, long unemployed, said that in our “newly” class-conscious America, the unemployed were going to remember which individuals and companies had treated them badly, and not patronize them or their business anymore and in fact start doing everything at home, on their own. One woman even wrote that she’d be framing her own pictures from now on. (Testify, my sister!) 
Um. Okay. First of all, let me make it a hundred, no a thousand percent clear that I have nothing but empathy for people who are unemployed, who have seen their previous way of life gutted. To be unemployed is to feel you have lost not only your lifestyle, but your independence, your value, your friends, etc. We live in a society in which the unemployed are treated like lepers, like third-class citizens, in which it’s easier to discuss being diagnosed with cancer than to admit you’ve lost your job. So, I don’t blame people for being angry. If being angry is going to make people demand long-overdue and necessary changes to our socio-political climate, bring. It. On! (Grrr!)
On the other hand, the idea that any one person can do everything on his or her own, that you don’t need society, that you’re going to punish society…seriously? No one ever did anything on her own.  That’s just one of those popular fictions that we all pretend to believe, like Jennifer Lopez is no longer a soul-sucking diva or that Madonna is totally fine, totally at peace with aging. (Ha.) We live in an time wherein life and opportunity is dictated by social media and our connectivity to each other.…but some people think they can ignore all that and live entirely on their own? Okay, enjoy churning your butter and sewing your own clothes, and I suppose bartering for whatever other goods you need. The cats and I will remain in…well, I suppose Queens technically counts as a form of civilization. I’m going to keep reaching out to others to help improve their lives and, at the same time, my own.  

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