Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm tired, too

I received one of those viral mass-mailed emails this morning. Okay, I got several of those already today -- that's the nature of the wild, weird, wonderful nature of the great Internet Ocean we all swim in now. But this email was one of the rare ones that was not only interesting and insightful, but even was worthy of a reposte. Or ... repost?

The email was birthed as a posting on the blog The Old Jarhead, by Robert A. Hall, a Vietnam Veteran and ex-Marine, and a former Massachusetts state sentaor.

His post titled "I'm Tired" starts out lyrically:

I'll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there's no retirement in sight, and I'm tired. Very tired.

Then, though, the piece picks up its rythmic --and thematic -- refrain:

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth around" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.

What follows is essentially a reptition of that refrain, followed more complaints and annoyances over topics ranging from drug and alcohol addiction, to illegal immigration, to racism ("I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice ..."), to Michael Moore and Al Gore, to ... well you get the idea.

I found it an interesting read, a laundry list of traditionally so-called "Conservative" complaints, concerns, and general irritations.

And I found I generally agreed with many of his points.

But that wasn't what got me to write a response.

So, with all due respect to both the friend who forwarded me this bit of viral inspiration and to Mr. Hall, whom I honor and respect for his service and his life built upon his personal integrity, I toss this post into the great Internet wilderness :

I'm tired of people who are tired of people.

I'm tired of people who are tired of people who disagree with them.

I'm tired of the "I'm tired of people who ..." perspective, because it's the rhetoric of the punk and the dictator, with its broad, vague generalities, false dichotomies and either-or fallacies, name-calling in place of reasoning, and the simple-minded and beligerent "it's them!" drumbeating.

I've seen that alcoholism can manifest as both disease and laziness in different people, and that some deserve help and others deserve a slap upside the head.

I understand that unlimited immigration is a burden on our country's resources, yet I also remember that my non-Native American ancestors at some point immigrants here, for some very good reasons, and were likely seen as a burden on our country's resources. And I bet most illegal immigrants today put themselves through that experience for good reasons, as well.

I've seen that many people deserve the wealth they've accrued, but I've also seen that even the people working at the lowest ranks in society help make the overall system work, and deserve at least a minimum amount of livable and enjoyable benefits -- some shared social wealth -- of the grander system we are all a part of.

I've experienced the actual value of a government-run social safety net, yet I also loathe and want to stop abuses of those systems.

I honor and respect those who choose to serve our country in the military -- in fact, I think military service should be compulsory for all U.S. citizens, so everybody has a vested interest in the care and use of that necessary part of our national defense -- but I also honor and respect the person with integrity enough to resist service if it goes against their conscience.

I too am wary of terrorism and Islamic Jihad and support efforts to defend ourselves and defuse those explosive movements, but I also feel it's wise and in the best interests -- in our truest national interest -- to at the same time look honestly and critically at our own role in creating and fomenting those movements, and to changing that behavior in a way that benefits all parties in the future.

I've learned that there are full spectra of people and paths out there, and that's a reality we need to work with, that it's in our own best interest to recognize, that those are the boundaries we need to live within -- and that it's more fun and interesting to see and explore what's lies in that terrain.

nd that we can never, ever allow ourselves to become tired of that reality.

This does not mean we cannot say what we mean -- we should speak, and we should debate. But it's about how say what we feel, think, mean, believe. The style is the message. Who we are is how we do whatever we do.

To do otherwise is to at best grow mean-spirited, and at worst to invite fascism.

And we're all tired of both of those.

* * * *

This post also appears on InsideOutsideMag.com.

Post a Comment