Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Survivor's guilt or please don't kick my puppy

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. 


  1. Want to go one more step down the rabbit hole? Nobody (who matters) actually cares about the crimes that lead to the Great Recession. Since 2008, Corporate profits and the stock market have hit record highs, over and over. Why would the ruling elite punish other elites for making them even richer than before?

  2. I also appreciate your rage at "redefining prosperity" which translates into "blessed are the meek for the Kingdom of heaven shall be theirs" which translates into- "just be happy with less and less and your reward is spiritual superiority". Clearly it won't be the Waltons and Monsanto who will be redefining THEIR prosperity. It will be those of us with little being content with less.

  3. Oy! That's as far down the rabbit hole as I can fall in one day. And, of course, you are right. I'd like to have enough just to be able to choose my own reward and let the spiritual superiority fall where it may.

  4. Wow. I just realized that my rationale very likely sounds exactly like what an elitist might say justifying their own level of "have enough just to be able to..." But in my case my desires are finite. They are NOT world domination. They are not based in conquest, status seeking, or bravado of any kind.

  5. An Internet ExplorerDecember 10, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Actually, corporations are people, just not in the way the Supreme Court defined the term. The people are very real and are overwhelmingly the shareholders who hope to make a return on their investment, and the thousands of low level employees who are just hoping to stay afloat and are terrified that their positions could be terminated at any time. When corporations are punished, these are really the only people who get seriously hurt. The only way to stop criminal activity by corporations is to impose draconian punishments on those responsible. Seize their assets and throw their despicable asses into real prisons for the rest of their lives with people who are not going to treat them nicely. If that happened, I'm pretty sure corporate malfeasance would go into a steep decline. Too bad nobody in a position to make that happen is going to do it any time soon.

    "Every time I see that smirking grin on Lou Blankfein's face I think: That's who. That's who could kick a puppy."

    Funny you should mention that. Rumor has it that Koch Industries is developing a breed of dog with traits ideally suited for that very purpose. Known as “Prole Pups for Plutocrats,” their main characterists will include: extra sturdy rib cages capable of withstanding sustained, repeated abuse; large, liquid eyes that express nothing but unbearable sadness; tails that are tucked so tightly between the hind legs they are unable to wag; and an abject subservience that compels them to grovel for approval and lick the hand of anyone who mistreats them. Ann Romney is supposedly near the top of the waiting list.

    And on a related note, did you know that every time Dick Cheney laughs, a puppy dies?

  6. Uh, I'm speechless. Made me wonder: Who is more terrified, the shareholders or the employees? I was a proud holder of Washington Mutual at one point. I think I wasn't afraid nearly enough, until it was too late.

  7. An Internet ExplorerDecember 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Sorry for your WAMU loss. That was a real debacle, and I imagine nobody responsible for it went to jail or even suffered any serious inconvenience. That's happened to me a few times, which is why I am a firm believer in showing no mercy to people who abuse their fiduciary trust and enrich themselves at the expense of those who can least afford it.

    Hard to decide who is more terrified, but there's sure plenty to go around. Unfortunately, Lou Blankenfeld, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their abhorrent bunch will never have anything more serious to be terrified about than having their bonuses cut once in awhile. And just thinking about that gave me the urge to go outside and yell angrily at the clouds for awhile so my head doesn't explode.

  8. Please don't let your head explode. It is clearly a good one. Besides I need you to keep leaving comments. :) ...something to live for, ya know?

  9. An Internet ExplorerDecember 26, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Aw, thanks! Fortunately, I was able to vent before the cranial pressure reached critical mass.

    Happy New Year!