"Women and children first" has gained a warped new meaning as congress snips and snipes away at the country's spending. And as much as I've been ignoring the media lately, I've not been able to ignore a certain gnawing unease, the feeling that all isn't right with the world, and it's only going to get worse.
The university where I work is holding RIF (Reduction in Force) information sessions as a lead up to what we are told are inevitable layoffs. While I've been assured that my own job is secure (oh, good), things don't look great for those who will be unemployed. (You can bet it isn't going to be any of the six-figure salaried coaches getting laid off, either.)
I sit back and wonder how I - and all those others whose wages have stagnated, if not disappeared entirely - will continue to afford buying gas and groceries as prices go higher. I worry about my self-employed friends and family whose livelihoods depend on regular folks having the disposable income to purchase the products and services they offer. I nudge my daughter to at least minor in a field where she'll acquire marketable skills and not just a diploma to hang on the wall when she finishes college in 2 years.(Especially if she wants that wall to be in Boston and not back here in Bubba County.)
Meanwhile I do catch sound bites wherein presidential aspirants affirm that they are going to do everything they can possibly do to see that more money keeps flowing to those poor deserving corporation-persons. They want us to believe that we the people owe it to the billionaires to see that their standard of living is preserved. Politicians, and a disturbing number of otherwise sane folks, tell them and us that's also the way to create jobs, revive the economy, and maybe even create a slice of heaven on earth, at least here in America.
|"Bale" Out Scheme|
And I have to remind myself to breathe . . .
But then I read Maggie's recent entry in Flying the Coop , and my whatever-it-is was suddenly put into words. Although Maggie is writing from (and most often about) the idyllic Tuscan countryside, she articulates the malaise I feel here in Appalachia. We seem to share a tentative yet tenacious hold on the good life as we know and define it, in regions geographically disparate yet equally beautiful, looking off to the distant other side of this mess the world is in.
"...[E]verywhere we go people are communicating their fear about where our world is heading. I mean, really, everyone is talking about this: in the butchers, the fruit and vegetable shop, the farmers and retirees on the streets of our village, in the towns and cities, at the dinners I recently spoke of and at Gianni' s house almost daily. We are all talking about the fragile state of the global economy, the dangerous state of global warming, and the pitiful state of government," Maggie writes. She also talks about "common sense" -- common in that it is something widely held -- and shares an e-mail that expresses what I struggle to bring to the forefront of my own consciousness: We can do something about this, and not let them paralyze us in fear of what's to come. We can insist that our elected representatives stop being corporate whores and instead legislate for the many, not the few.
The e-mail Maggie quotes goes so far as to propose a "Congressional Reform Act of 2011," which, realistically we cannot expect to be acted upon because, well, it would take an act of Congress. But I do acknowledge the need for more of us to get involved, to have our voices heard, and to expose the posers who try to come off as one of us during daytime campaign stumps while bedding down with their moneyed puppetmasters every night.
Regardless of what you believe, we are all in the same boat. And it's a big enough boat that it won't matter if there are more of us on the left or the right -- that won't make a difference in whether we sink or not. What matters, it seems, is all of us paying close attention to where we're heading...