Last week I posted a video to my Facebook page, as you do. The video, which everyone has probably seen by now, was of Jason Chaffetz asserting that folks needed to stop buying themselves new iPhones and invest in their own healthcare. To make “hard choices” as if we thoughtlessly toss smart phones into our shopping carts as often as we do shampoo. It was as close to a “Let them eat cake!” moment as I can recall.
The conversation on my page quickly turned into a debate; “Is he ignorant, or just cruel?”
A valid question, given the times, but the answer is difficult. Difficult because there is what I am tempted to say and then there is the answer that I grudgingly admit may be closer to the truth.
I’ve said before that life is scary and tenuous and uncertain. Most of us don’t like to dwell in that uncomfortable space, do not accept the premise, do not make our peace with it. We tell ourselves that we are safe, because we follow the rules. Unlike those other folks who, through their own careless missteps, are now paying the piper. You can read more about my thoughts on the subject here.
But I think that there is another piece to it. I think there are many people like Chaffetz, like our President, who want to believe that they are special. That their place in life is because they are extraordinary (“A tiny loan from Dad! A mere million dollars! Hardly worth mentioning!”) that they are better than the rest of the cattle. And in order for that to be true, then we must be less than they are. Less hard working, less intelligent, less responsible. And if they really believe that, if they respect us so little, how can we expect them to work for us?
Understand, this is just my theory, but I can’t think of any other reason to explain the distain that I hear coming off of some of these politicians. Or the seeming indifference to the devastating effect their policies are having on families. How else can you watch the images of bewildered, grieving children, loved ones torn apart with no notice, no care, no plan as to what will happen to all these breathing, hurting human beings? There is no way to justify it, unless you have allowed yourself to believe that they are somehow different, lesser than you.
Now, here, children, comes the sticky part. The bitter, bitter pill. If I maintain in my heart and my soul that none of these people are better than any of us, that we are all formed from the same dust, then the statement becomes, “This man is no better than us, and no worse, either.”
What?! DAMMIT. If that is true, I am going to have to stop referring to Rep. Chaffetz as an evil nemesis–and a whole slew of other previously used names that my higher self declines to list at this moment.
The mechanism, the thought process, is the same. Saying, ”Oh, that evil, rotten man! How callous! How unfeeling!” allows me to pretend that I haven’t done exactly what he has done at different times in my life. That I haven’t turned a blind eye when I was in a position to help because it would be inconvenient. That I haven’t maintained a pretty damn solid wall between “my problem” and “your problem” or felt that my concerns were of clear priority over others’. It allows me to pretend that he is a caricature of villainy, twirling his handlebar mustache and tying little girls to railroad tracks.
I hate when these things occur to me. It’s so hard to maintain an open heart and, dang it, life is hard enough right now. Plus, I am so very good at the witty retort and sarcasm, and so very less good at, well, not sarcasm.
Wisdom and moderation do not fit comfortably within the concept I have of myself. I experience a vague feeling of vertigo when I try to stifle my clearly hilarious, but mostly snarky, comments— like those mornings you wake up and cannot for the life of you figure out what day it is. Trying to halt my instant and habitual outrage feels like a dog running out its leash; “barkbarkbarkbark BARK!” And then a violent, backwards snap. Which is bad news for me. Frankly, I’m not sure I have a sufficient number of iPhones to cover a case of whiplash.
Sorry. I can’t help myself.