Thomas Paine:

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun Encounters at the Post Office

The satisfactions of not biting my tongue

      The woman in line ahead of me at the post office said to her two children, “Stop it. Stand still, or I’m going to pinch you hard.”
      I noticed the woman had some sort of Christian literature to send; I noticed the hard expression on her face; I noticed how her children’s faces went from happy innocence, as they giggled and jostled each other, to fear and foreboding after their mother’s threat.
      Then I heard her respond to something one of them had asked: “No...” she answered harshly, as she stepped away from the line to go up to the counter, “...that wouldn’t be Christian!”
      “...and neither is pinching your children,” I said. The timing was perfect. She heard me but didn’t have a chance to hit me over the head, like she probably does to her children behind closed doors.
      Many parents think they own their children and think nobody has a right interfere with their parenting. The are wrong; children belong to themselves first, but because abused children grow up either to be problems to themselves or to society, you and I have a right to correct parents, when parents abuse their children in our presence. In fact, not to speak up is a way of condoning abuse.

      After I reached the counter and my package was being processed, somewhere during the lively conversation I was having with the postal clerk, I heard myself say, “thank goodness for FDR and Social Security!” This seemed to strike a simpatico chord with the clerk, who then leaned forward to whisper a tidbit from his own political mind: “Can you believe women voters are so stupid they would vote for a woman, simply because she’s a woman?!” Well, I tried to tell him it was all media lies, that mainstream women aren’t going to vote for what I call the McCain/Palin-Comparison ticket, but he was on a roll— “What a pack of idiots, eh?”
      The fallacy here, the one the media tend to use, is the notion of the pack. The real idiots are the ones who say, “The American people...” this or that. Or, “Women want...” this or that. “White males...” vote this way or that. I don’t think you can generalize in that way. I think there is far less homogeneity out there, and people are way more complex and individual than that. Having said as much, I will now contradict myself by saying right-wing conservatives do tend to behave as a pack, whereas liberals do not. As Jim Hightower once said, “Trying to organize Democrats is like trying to load frogs into a wheelbarrow.”
      What do you think?


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