Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If there must be trouble, let it be in my day -- Thomas Paine

Yes, I've been reading, albeit cursorily, about the folks "occupying Wall Street," and I have a neighbor friend who's actually participated in some of the rallies here in Los Angeles. Everyone who reads this blog knows where my political persuasions lie, but lately I've kept my head in the sand, deeply depressed, to tell you the truth, more convinced than ever that we're living in a plutocracy, or perhaps an oligarchy but certainly NOT a democracy. My family is struggling mightily -- and I have to say that while the stress and grief and loss that accompany being the parents of a child with severe disabilities takes its toll, behind that stress and grief and loss is overwhelming love, love that makes it all bearable, all the time.

Behind financial and economic stress is literally nothing, a black hole, a gaping maw, a terrifying void.

I don't know why this is, but it is.

I'm moved by the photos of We Are the 99 Percent that you can see here.  There's this one:

and this one:

and I'm educated by Hendrik Hertzberg's article about the movement in The New Yorker.

Here's an excerpt:

The process, not the platform, is the point. Anyway, OWES is not the Brookings Institution. But its implicit grievances are plain enough: the mass pain of mass unemployment, underemployment, and economic insecurity; the corrupting, pervasive political influence of big money; the outrageous, rapidly growing inequality of wealth and income; the impunity of the financial-industry scammers whose greed and fraud precipitated the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; a broken political system hobbled by a Republican right willing and usually able to block any measures, however timid and partial, that might relieve the suffering. 

From the introduction to We are the 99 Percent:

They say it’s because you’re lazy. They say it’s because you make poor choices. They say it’s because you’re spoiled. If you’d only apply yourself a little more, worked a little harder, planned a little better, things would go well for you. Why do you need more help? Haven’t they helped you enough? They say you have no one to blame but yourself. They say it’s all your fault.

And here:

The American Dream is not to become rich. It is to see the fruit of your labors, whatever they may be. It is to EARN your rewards. But Corporate America has taken the rewards away. All that is left is work and desperation. (Or no work, and even more desperation) A home, health insurance, providing for your children, giving them a future…those things SHOULD be attainable.  But unions are gone or ineffective. Politicians are corrupt. The Supreme Court values the speech of corporations over those of the people.  Jobs are taken overseas. 
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine said that.  He also said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” 

And there's this astonishing article.

There's something very different going on here -- it's not scary to me as much as inevitable. Dare I say exciting? Hopeful? Possible?

What do you think?


  1. Oh, Elizabeth. I just feel so hopeless about it all. As if every drop of any optimism I may have ever had for change has been used up.
    I'm glad others do not feel that way, though. I am.

  2. "My family is struggling mightily -- and I have to say that while the stress and grief and loss that accompany being the parents of a child with severe disabilities takes its toll, behind that stress and grief and loss is overwhelming love, love that makes it all bearable, all the time.

    Behind financial and economic stress is literally nothing, a black hole, a gaping maw, a terrifying void."

    These words tear at my heart. Perhaps because they express the cry of so many (including me) who are struggling, at different levels, to survive the world of illness and/or disability. And I would hope that any/all political movements would be based on compassion and liberty and justice, but sadly, I have become pretty jaded regarding all things political. I will vote, of course, but mostly I am just trying to make a difference in my own tiny way in my own tiny part of the world. Perhaps that isn't enough. But I can't read these words of yours without hoping and praying that you and your family are provided for as you give your all for those you love.

  3. Thank you, Elizabeth! This just blows me away, every single word you set down here. I am so glad there is you. I've been wanting to write about occupywallstreet by haven't had the energy, because i am one of those mired in "work and desperation" because they fired too many damned people and now they expect the few who are left the carry the weight because we fear the alternative, the loss of the paycheck, but the work is too much, it cannot be sustained, i got home at 11:30 last night and my daughter met me at the door and said mom, it's too late, it's too much. but i have no choice none at all and so i keep on keep on keep on and thank god for the people on wall street and the people like you who get it and share it as you do here.

    and oh what you wrote here: "while the stress and grief and loss that accompany being the parents of a child with severe disabilities takes its toll, behind that stress and grief and loss is overwhelming love, love that makes it all bearable, all the time." It is wrenching and beautiful. i am in awe of how you hold both in your arms at the same time. you are a marvel.

    sorry for venting in your comment box. i guess i should vent on my own blog.

    i love you so much.

  4. Wow, I mean seriously? Linking to that blog and beginning to read the stories, is mind blowing and I relate to much of what was written, by complete strangers,on so many levels. In fact my husband and I,just this morning were discussing our lives and what they look like, in this moment, as he closing in on 50. And it doesn't look pretty. Ugly is a better description.

    We look at Jess, with her 4 year degree and now in nursing school just hoping the accumulation of more debt will pay off,in making the decision for a career change. And Matt, 4 year degree in marketing with no marketing jobs available, again, making 9 dollars an hour at an ambulance company. Hoping a career change, will make a difference. Danny, working full time, masters program at night , 4 hours of sleep a night, just in hopes he will one day be able to provide for his precious family of three. Taylor, needing a masters in teaching if she has ANY hope of landing a job in the field of teaching. That she is going into Special Education, might, might be to her advantage. My niece, without a home,part-time job, with us, at 20, trying to survive in a world that even if you have a degree you might be screwed and without one, she is finding, you definitely are.

    What is going to change? Is it going to change? What is the future of our society and our country. Terrifying.

    I can't even think of the little guys and what it will be like for them as they grow. And Zoey and her needs, well, let's not go there. I will just keep clinging to that love you were talking about because on some days, that is simply all that is left.

    Novel. Sorry. Just kept typing!!

  5. I am overwhelmed, silent, extremely lucky, completely useless, jaded, hopeless. I don't know what to do and I don't know the way out. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to move to another country. The immigration story would definitely change if there was a huge mass migration OUT of this country.

  6. I am hopeful. I love knowing that there are people out there who are willing to go to the mat for their beliefs and convictions and while I think it is going to be difficult to change this mighty machine that is the political establishment, I think after all of this there can be no doubt what the people really want and that they are willing to come together to talk about it.

  7. This is beautifully written as are the comments. work and desperation rings like a bell in my head. Like Angella I work insane hours for a greedy corporation one that is trying to break down the unions and ship work overseas. It would be enough or it would help to have a job where we got paid what we need to live basically. One job not three. My son struggles with this too and other things I don't talk about. He has a good education and now he tends the orchard picks apples and chops firewood. What the hell?

  8. That last article is quite astonishing and I'm so glad you've linked it. I've been so busy living the life of luxury as an educator, I've had zero time to catch up on news.
    This is important - I hope the momentum keeps up. It does feel a little hopeful.

  9. I love that site, too, and feel a little glimmer of hope at how it has all taken off. Down here in Australia, we're feeling pretty damn privileged right now. Not that we don't have our own 99%, but I think our social welfare systems are slightly more socially responsible... Maybe.

  10. It's beautiful to read what you and all the others, on your posting and commenting here, have to say. I love the freedom of speech that we enjoy here, and I love the messages in those photographs.

    I hope that, before we are old people, we will be able to find and elect real public SERVANTS who wish to SERVE the public in various elected offices. Then lobbyists and corporate fat-cats will not be running the country, but men and women of conscience. But who in his/her right mind would want to run for office now?

  11. I think the people have had enough. I also think the mighty are scared. And, I think that we have a narrow window in which to change things or we will be in this mess for a long time.

    I understand your depression. I have also been visiting that dark place, for the first time in my life. I worry all the time and this from someone who really never worried. I move between hope and despair several times a day. I want to believe there is hope and then I look around the place where I live, the most conservative district in MN, and feel broken.

    We have an occupy MN happening. I need to get to Minneapolis and join in. I think I will feel better if I do.

    Thanks for posting this.

  12. Every great civilization does not endure. It eventually does change. History has countless examples.

    I think we are bearing witness to the beginning of the end of ours. I'm not suggesting that Life will end, just our current political way of Life.

    And yeah...we do not live in a Democracy Elizabeth, we haven't in a VERY long time, if we ever did at all. I think the closest we have actually come is a Republic.

    Today, we live in an Oligarchy.

  13. I am hopeful, and I love reading your thoughts.

  14. On a day to day family basis, it's crushing - I have to talk myself off the ledge with the ol' "we have running water, jobs, & health insurance". But against the broad sweep of history I *AM* hopeful. As compared to even 50 yrs ago, those that had no voice now have the legal right to scream. The right for an IEP, to serve openly in the military, to have different colored skin... though they make my skin crawl, I consider the strident right the whining of bullies losing yet another weapon out of their arsenal. There will be bumps & set backs along the way but they ALWAYS end up on the wrong side of history.



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