Tuesday, December 3, 2013
It's not that I'm too shy, or don't have anything to say. It is, when you get right down to it, a nagging feeling that I'm just not supposed to be here. I survived the holidays, got back home from a lovely trip out of town, and now it is Monday and I've got survivor's guilt.
This thing called guilt comes in many different flavors, but they all amount to the same thing. What am I doing here, and why? It is as if my very existence has not been summoned, is not really needed, and by the way, we're not even going to bother asking you to do anything.
It's sinking in now. This is how the unemployed feel. This is how returning veterans feel. I understand it. I get it. There is only so much self-creation one can do on a daily basis. That is why I steer clear of using catchall phrases like "I'm reinventing myself." Uh, no I'm not, not really. I think I'm OK the way I am. Everything else is simply accommodating what I imagine some social force in the world expects of me.
I'm losing interest with these imagined forces. The problem is imagination sometimes comes true. You will meet that person who has the audacity to ask: So what do you do all day? I wish I had the balls on the spot to make something up, something exaggerated and ridiculous like I clean cages at the zoo, or I track the accuracy of metro bus schedules within a two block radius of my home, or I provide an ear candling service for pregnant teenagers. Huh?
The fact is the guilt is there; I see it, but I don't think it is really mine. I'm merely holding onto it on behalf of the people who really deserve to be feeling it and doing something to relieve it. That is how I came to hear words thrown out of my mouth over dinner a couple nights ago. I was making reference to a publication that had as its subtitle Redefining Prosperity. I found myself emphatically saying "I don't think we need to redefine prosperity. We need to redefine CRIME!"
What I wanted to go on expounding was how corrosive the effect has been of not punishing the institutions and people therein who created the financial collapse of 2008. That wasn't merely the downfall of companies, stock valuations, careers and livelihoods; it was much more insidious than that. When there are no corrective measures taken, no truth telling, then collectively we forfeit our most important values.
It is difficult to imagine that a deep sense of right and wrong isn't somehow ingrained in every human being. How many people can watch another person kick a puppy without cringing in horror, quickly followed by sorrow and rage?
Every time I see that smirking grin on Lou Blankfein's face I think: That's who. That's who could kick a puppy.
The point is there is an unimaginable amount of disconnect between what any one individual holds true as the core of his identity in human society and the actions that are allowed to be taken by these collective assemblages some people belong to called corporations. As if that weren't bad enough, there is another assemblage called the Supreme Court of the United States that has deemed it necessary to give corporations the same rights as individuals.
I might be considered a conspiracy theorist if this wasn't actually true. I'm absolutely sure I could not make this up all by myself. I'm a clever girl, but there are lines even I could not conceive of, let alone cross.
And so my sorrow lurks more deeply. I am the guilty party for being a part of this country, for having put my hand across my heart as a child to recite the pledge of allegiance, for wanting to believe there is such a thing as justice, social contracts, fairness. I may still hold out hope for certain individuals, but collectively as an entity called society? Nope. Sorry, that puppy got his ass kicked.