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Thursday, August 30, 2012


After hearing innumerable 'Republican' politicos dilate on their, or, more often, their parents'--and still more often, their grandparents'--hardscrabble backgrounds, coming from nothing, basement apartments, tuna casseroles, etc., etc., ad nauseam, it occurred to me: if these bozos actually believe that being born poor and having to work hard for all they, or their families, now have is a virtue in and of itself, then they're only half-right at best. As with nearly everything with humans (including the DNA we inherit) so much depends on what we make of it! If either they, their parents or grandparents, came from nothing and worked their way up to wealth and power, why--literally--in God's Name are they pulling up the ladders to such success behind them?! Or is that actually the reason? Do they consider their families' success to be so precarious that they're afraid of those who would otherwise follow and they conceal their fears behind their hardscrabble anecdotes? Or, maybe, having heard these stories at a tender age, were they frightened by them (that is, by the idea what they now had could be taken away and then even they, the children, would have to go down the coalmines or into the mills), never outgrew that terror and, hence, are determined it'll never happen to them again? Or do they actually believe they inherit even their parents' or grandparents' presumptive virtue as a result of their way up the ladder? That last is so preposterous, even for 'Republicans', that I hesitated over it--but in 2012, who knows?
One thing none of them seem to mention, or maybe weren't told about, were those friends of their folks who, for one reason or another, fell by the wayside and never made it to the middle class or higher. Surely they had such friends; why didn't they mention them if only as cautionary examples? Are all these families so persuaded of their own superior virtue? Regardless of what they think, they're sure acting as if they really do believe that about their families and themselves. And since it looks that way, I have a hard time thinking of any group (except sociopaths and psychopaths) to be less trusted anywhere near governmental power, whether elective or appointive, than this lot! My own mother grew up poor until she was (I think) about fourteen or fifteen; so did many of the kids with whom she went to school at P.S.#221 and Tilden High School. Today, she is a pediatric oncologist recently retired from leading her department at a nationally known children's hospital. But I know of no one from her classes (including herself) who believes in their own exceptional 'virtue'; most of them remember and respect the people who helped them along the way. All her friends and relations from her girlhood I've ever known were, or still are, in favor of strengthening and broadening the upward ladders; all of them execrate the very idea of chopping them down! And this sentiment isn't just something I inherited but it's been reinforced through my adult lifetime almost every time I looked round to see how others besides myself were doing--and I think that's all I should write about that as I've no desire to vaunt myself herein.
A pair of sayings of G.K. Chesterton's are, I think, relevant here. 1)"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." 2) "Satan fell through force of gravity." And not Newtonian, either, but the kind which turns one's mouth's corners determinedly downward. If these scribes and Pharisees of today really believe (and from their actions, it is only too clear that they do) in their, and/or their families', exceptional virtue, the best thing we can do for our country (and maybe for the souls of our Pharisees as well) is vote them all--and I mean all; let none survive as an officeholder or candidate--out of office by as wide margins as we can honestly manage and don't let them or their descendants anywhere near political power for at least forty years! And this applies whether they have 'religious' affiliations or not. The disqualifier is not any set of religious beliefs but a belief in their own superior 'virtue', or that of their families. If a hardscrabble backgound produces such a misguided belief, it's very wrongly construed. If, on the other hand, it feeds a desire to make things not as hard for those that follow, and enable more to follow, then that is a blessing of such antecedents.

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