I've written before on the "New Face of Poverty in America", but this is a bit of a different spin: "The Face of Heartlessness in America". I don't think it is the "new" face of heartlessness in America, as we've always seen some pretty cruel people over the years, but the recent upsurge of Tea Party Republican-ism and "social conservatives" seems to be bringing out the worst in a segment of our population.
There are an incredible number of mean-spirited, objectifying, and negative posters around the Internet these days. We can let the words of those who feel that they are "superior" to the rest of us speak for themselves.. with rebuts from those who are compassionate believers in this country and all of its citizens, from the wealthiest to the most poverty stricken.
Shame on You!
All of these unpleasant people somehow missed the lesson that so many of us got from our parents: Shame on you!
In our family, if we were selfish, lying, lazy, mean to each other, or cruel to a classmate, my mother would admonish us with the "Shame on you"! cry.. and that "Look"! We learned "There but for the grace of God go I" when we talked of people who had experienced hardships or when we came across people with deformities or disabilities. We learned that showing compassion, empathy, and caring for others was a good thing. And that the often heartless, sometimes cruel or selfish behavior in which most children engage as they mature was not a good thing; and those behaviors over time were extinguished.
The Republican Debate Hall of Shame
We could shame many of the Republican candidates and legislators, and probably a few Democrats as well. Not to mention the Republican audiences at these debates. Let's start with the Republican debate Hall of Shame:
- Who could forget the raucous audience applause when the moderator mentioned the hundreds of people put to death in Texas under Governor Rick Perry?
- And then, just a week or two later, the loud calls of "Let him die!" when a question about a proverbial person without health insurance was asked of Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
- Another debate or two down the line, and a soldier now defending his country in Iraq was on videophone asking a question of the cavalcade of clowns and characters. He was, however, a gay soldier, so the audience felt free to boo this man who was fighting on their behalf in a country half a world away.
- And then we get Newt Gingrich, the most despicable of the bunch. He suggests that poor kids need to build up a work ethic, apparently assuming that all poor kids have parents who don't work and have never worked. But he is going to help them to build up a work ethic, not by providing better schools or more education to these kids, perhaps after-school tutoring programs or other activities that help the learning process... but, no, these poor kids can scrub the toilets of their wealthier classmates. Why don't the wealthier classmates need to scrub toilets? Because they already have a work ethic! Yep, it's easy to have a work ethic if you get to work for Daddy's business during the summer, like some wealthier kids I know. In any event, the Grinch continued to defend his vision for America's poor children, and the Republican audience applauded vehemently.
Today's Hall of Shame from the realm of forum posters
Today's candidate for the "Shame on You!" award is the person who wrote the following reply to an article at Huffington Post about extending unemployment benefits. One of the people profiled in the article was a long-term unemployed man in his 60's trying to figure out how he could keep paying his mortgage and other bills. Our charter Hall of Shame poster wrote:
He shouldn't still have a mortgage at age 60. Renting is cheaper, nobody is entitled to own a home, and most are forced to retire before 65. That was just greed and bad planning. __ The young need the jobs, they have the highest unemployme
nt. It's their world not ours (I'm 61). The new mantra is "60 is the new 70". You are now too old to get or keep a job in the US at age 60.
Though I don't completely disagree with this person's assessment that you are now too old to get or keep a job in the US at age 60, I did disagree with his judgmental attitude towards those who are 60 who still have mortgages. My reply:
Shame on you. We know very little about this person's situation. Perhaps a family member was ill and he was not able to save as much as he wanted. Perhaps he himself or his wife had a chunk of time out of the labor force before this recession due to health problems.. or tending elderly parents.
I know people who pursued the American dream by starting a business in their 40's or 50's only to have the business go bellyup, which happens much more than we think.. .Now they find themselves planning on working as long as they can.. if they can. People with late-in-li
fe divorces or late-in-li fe families often find themselves starting over in their 40's or 50's with not as much time to accumulate assets.
I know many people in their 50's who are just getting their last kid out of the door.. They planned on working for the next 10 years and stashing cash.. only to have the economy tank.
I know plenty of people who have mortgages, often very reasonable mortgages, who are in their 50's or 60's. It doesn't mean they are greedy or "didn't plan well". It meant that life threw them some curves. It's too bad that we aren't all as superior as you seem to think you are.
Another Huffington Post member added:
And it is a sad world, Molly, where posters such as the one you just answered think that every person must follow the same trajectory in life. There are resources enough of earth for everyone. With automation we see the possibilit
y of the end of monotonous labor for people's entire lives. And we would live on a much happier planet if we thought about how to share more equally rather than scheming to defraud our fellow human beings.
Yes, indeed; it can be a sad world when we are chided, criticized, or condemned for not making "perfect decisions" or living a "perfect life."