Friday, June 6, 2014

Thanks, Mr. Kennedy

I wrote this…oh, a couple of years ago, when I realized that in a few areas, I’d fallen off the fence I usually make my home. But it was 46 years ago today that Bobby Kennedy died. I remember the day, how I felt. Because at first I felt hopeless with him gone. There wasn’t anyone else in politics who listened, who wanted the good of all. But the hopelessness didn’t last, because he was all about hope.

I never wanted to be a liberal. Truth be told, I never wanted to be political at all. It’s all Bobby Kennedy’s fault, because way back in the 1960s, he made me think all things were possible. For everybody.

It’s that “everybody” part that got me.

In case you don’t know anything about me, I am a stereotype to end all stereotypes. I’m Christian, white, straight, married, and retired. You know those people who say they worked their butts off for 40 years and now it’s their turn to sit on them and draw their “entitlement?” — I’m one of them.

I love Christmas for all the “right” reasons — I love the Lord, peace on earth, good will toward men — and the “wrong” ones — I love presents, parties, and Christmas songs. My clothing and the stuff in my house is traditional. I drive an SUV. I am happy to be an American and I’m proud of it, too, though … oh, good Lord, do I think we have problems!

Most of them, I’m prone to believe, have to do with two things:  (1) Greed. And, no, I’m not going to explain that one. If you don’t get it on your own, you’re not going to, and (2) People are always mad at other people. For such a myriad of reasons it would be silly to make a list.

However, besides being a stereotype, I occasionally step across the line from sane to silly in a heartbeat. Or a keystroke if you want to get literal about it. So here’s my list of why I think people are mad at others:

  • Because the other person is of the wrong religion. (This one includes no religion at all.)
  • Because the other person is of the wrong color, nationality, or ethnicity. (A really big umbrella — it probably deserves more than one number, but I’m trying to keep this list reasonable.)
  • Because the other person is of the wrong sexual orientation.
  • Wrong gender.
  • Wrong profession.
  • Wrong neighborhood.
  • Wrong political party. (This includes, besides the official party designations, conservative and liberal. While I’m pretty much a liberal — thanks a lot, Bobby — I’m not really a democrat and I doubt I’m the only one who’s tired of being told she is.)
  • Wrong tax bracket. Yes, I’m serious. I’m part of the begging-for-relief middle class — you think I’m not mad?
  • Wrong age.
 Well, I was going to go for an even ten, but I couldn’t think of anyone else to be mad at right now. You can make your own list.

As usual, I seem to have swerved slightly from where I started this little soliloquy — okay, I’ve veered wildly and may get arrested for writing while incensed — so I guess I’ll try to connect the middle to the beginning and see if I can arrange an end.

Back to me being a liberal. And a stereotype. And mad. (I don’t think I’m greedy, so I’m leaving that out.)

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being mad at people because they are different from us. Well, actually, I do, but I’m trying to be realistic here — are you going to be less mad because I tell you it’s wrong? Where we run into those problems I mentioned earlier is when we try to hurt the ones we’re mad at. I feel another list coming on, but I’m going to see if I can avoid that.

In truth, most of us probably don’t intend to do harm. Other than the bullies of the world, who do of course want to hurt everyone except their own closed circle of cronies. It’s what they do.

Some conservative groups want to deny basic civil rights to gay people. And women. And people of retirement age. And children. White supremacists think “white is right.” Some black activists think just the opposite. There are people in the world who think what happened on Nine-Eleven was okay, that we “deserved” it. There are Christians who think the doors to the house of God should be closed to ones whose beliefs don’t exactly mirror theirs. There are atheists and agnostics who think the word God — complete with a capital G — should be drummed out of, well, everything. There are feminists who think if you don’t believe in late-term abortion, you’re not a real feminist. There are … well, crap, it’s another list, isn’t it? And it’s way too long.

Good grief, are we all bullies? The “everybody” that Bobby Kennedy made me believe deserved All Things Are Possible? Can that be?

Maybe we are. Maybe realizing that would be a good first step. Maybe if each of us did our own little part to fix it — look inside yourself, dummy, not at the “wrong” people — that would be an even better second step. Maybe …