15 October 2013

On Growing Up

When I was a teenager, I remember feeling like an adult. I could handle things. I had a job, therefore I was making my own money. I had a driver's license, therefore I had the freedom to go wherever I wanted. I had the right to stay up late, dress how I wanted, blast my music and smoke cigarettes. I believed all the "things they don't want you to know" because it sounded to my naive ears, like the secret truth of adults that kids don't get to hear. And I wasn't a kid anymore. No, I was all grown up and everyone else was stupid. 

I paid for gas and car insurance, CDs (look those up, kids), special items of clothing I wanted or junk food from Seven Eleven. I'd compare myself to the wealthier kids I knew whose parents bought them cars on their 16th birthdays and paid for their college education like it was a given. I'd think how spoiled they were and how hard I had to work for what I had. I mean, on top of my job and my school and paying some bills, I had to babysit my brother and clean the house from top to bottom every Saturday. How could they run that house without me? 

But I had expectations, too. There was food in the refrigerator. A roof over my head. A pillow under my big adult head. Gas, water, electric. I went to school. I drove a shared car that I didn't buy myself. If I got into a jam, I could always count on mom & dad to help me out. 

Then, I began the process of growing up. Growing up isn't the same as growing old. Growing up involves the incremental increase of responsibility you shoulder with each new right you possess and the acceptance of said responsibilities and the understanding of their importance in society. 

For instance, I moved out of the house. I had a right to go out and make it on my own, but now I had the responsibility to pay my bills, utilities I had previously taken for granted, and rent. I had an additional responsibility not to trash the place I was renting or I would owe the landlord money for repairs. Why did I have these obligations? So that the property owner could pay the bills on the home they were letting me borrow and make a living managing property for renters like me. This includes fixing appliances that break, maintaining the grounds and so forth. It's a symbiotic relationship. And it is important for both partners livelihoods in the greater scheme of things. A landlord isn't just some asshole taking my hard-earned money and laughing all the way to the bank. (generally speaking) 

Are you following me? 

I got a full-time job. I bought property. I got pregnant. I got married. And with each new step I took towards a self-sufficient, adult life, I became saddled with the checks and balances attached to nearly everything. Nothing is free. Not simply because some anonymous group of conspirators wants to wreck your good time, but because every single thing we do ripples outward and every single person out there affects us and likewise, we affect them. 

With each new step, I realized how much my parents were doing when I was a teenager that I thought nothing of. Water wasn't just something that came out of the tap anymore. It involved  my parents working to pay a bill, that money going to the building of infrastructure, the overseeing of quality control, the maintenance of equipment and the hired employees in the utility department who make it all possible. And, I might add, who need to make money to live in homes and feed their families just like the rest of us. 

During this time, my eyes were opened to critical thinking, science based conclusions and how knee-jerk emotions must be overcome to truly understand any issue. I stopped believing every thing "they" didn't want me to know and gained the tools necessary to research an issue as best I could, with not just an open mind, but an understanding of how to tell shit from Shinola (as they used to say.) 

In short, I grew up by taking care of myself and my family and the community around me (directly or indirectly.) And I understood that things don't simply exist for me to take a piss. 

And (here's the payoff political readers) this is what upsets me the most about what's going on in America right now. We are behaving, and believing, like a bunch of goddamned teenagers. And it is hurting the people and embarrassing us to the world. 

And the mind-boggling thing in't even whose side is right. It's the attitude being projected, not only in the media, but my facebook feed. 

Yes shitheads, parks and monuments are maintained. It takes money to keep up grounds, clean your trash, find your lost asses, put out your near-catastrophic campfires, maintain a hunting and fishing balance for the ecosystem, and try to keep the land "healthy." And yes, we pay taxes for it. Stop being a teenager and thinking a pristine natural area occurs by magic and it's the millions of people traipsing in and out's god-given right to take a shit there. Without government protection and care, we wouldn't have beautiful parks. The Once-ler would have cleared them all. 

Truth, shitheads, life would suck without government. The cry of anarchy and freedom is akin to the teenagers' cry of "whateva! I do what I want!" All rights and no responsibility to balance it out. Everyone wants good schools, maintained neighborhoods, safe parks, a roof over their head and a meal on the table. But to get that requires a huge underpinning of people working hard to make that happen. This doesn't exist if no one chips in, pays taxes, serves their community, regulates the safety of citizens, tries to teach children of all different abilities, and a whole manner of jobs besides simply working the one you have. Again, water does not simply flow from the tap like magic. While I do agree the government doesn't always do things right and in many cases has a bit too much reach, saying we don't need it is just f*cking silly. 

The Democrats believe we all need to work together and help make this country equal for all it's citizens, but they tend to pour money into a lot of programs that don't work or are made inefficient with bureaucracy and complacency. We can learn from them that social justice is of fundamental importance. Everyone must be treated equally and without discrimination. We can try to make programs more efficient and vibrant, instead of shutting them down.

The Republicans believe in big business, big banking, big corporations and small government interference. If we allow business to boom, everyone shall prosper. But they tend to completely disenfranchise large swaths of the population and discriminate based on social and religious beliefs. We can learn from them that big corporations are great and allow for huge breakthroughs and cheap goods. But without regulation you get Monsanto and no one wants that hellscape. 

The Libertarians believe we should be free from Government interference at all and our free will, along with the Free Market, shall save us. Depending on the type of Libertarian, they can run the gamut between anarchist and conservative. Taken to it's extreme, it is the ultimate teenager party. All rights, zero responsibility for anything outside of yourself. Instead of "god," "nature/economics" is the idol. However, the moderate ones have something to bring to the table as well, in the form of ways to get inefficient and unfounded government control out of our lives, and remind us of our liberty and how precious and thrilling, and AMERICAN, it is.

The Tea Partiers... Oh I can't even keep a straight face. They have no ideas and bring nothing to the table but the reminder that our country is in desperate need of education and mental health care. 

In closing, as one grows up, one realizes that we have a unique gift of liberty in this country. We have rights and freedoms, but we also have responsibilities to keep the good thing going. And instead of trying to work this big beautiful girl with a mixture of social equality, pro-business, and individual liberty and responsibility, we are treating this political farce like opposing Superbowl teams. I believe this is because we are teenagers, just waking up to the complexity and corruption going on. It's easier to surround yourself with other fans than have to figure things out. And what's worse? The longer we serfs are scrambling on the floor for the dropped sandwich and kicking each other in the teeth to survive, we are ignoring the single most important fact that makes every single party we belong to a joke - special interest money. And the fact that the middle class is struggling for life, rapidly falling into poverty at scary rates. A teenager thinks, "that's your problem, losers!" or "Shut it all down! We don't need it!" A grown up realizes a feudal monetary system and an enormous number of now desperate people will cost us every freedom we think we're entitled to.

*removes soapbox*


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