Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Just For Right Wing Irregulars

An odd benefit of being read online is that you sometimes have the odd yet exhilarating experience of email from total strangers. And while many are of the “screw you and the horse you rode in on,” variety, I figure the least I can do if someone takes the time to write to me is to write back. I already know what I think; I’d rather hear what other people think. And a few of these folks have become jolly pen pals.

Janis Joplin

So when a recent exchange with one of my right wing irregulars included the line,  "I still have an hour commute. Janis Joplin on the iPod and it’s raining."  I just had to ask, "Joplin?  This guy?"  Suddenly I suspected things were not right wing as they may have seemed. I countered, "You must've been a radical liberal once, back in the day, when you still had hopes and ideals....when you believed in equal opportunity and the communal good. No one is born cynical and sardonic; that develops with age and experience. What made you change?"

I think I caught him off guard. He said he had to think about that one, and he apparently he did, because a while later he wrote a rather thoughtful response that included the phrase:

For whatever reasons, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the only person you can rely on is yourself.

Now, I’m probably just as cynical as the next person, but hey! who wouldn’t be these days? We’re involved in two underfunded land wars in Asia (despite Vizzini’s sage advice to the contrary.) Our economy is in shambles. Jobs have evaporated, people are without health coverage, and all too often they’re trying to figure out whether to put food on the table or meds in their mouths. Even hope becomes a precious commodity.

The Republican mantra to deny President Obama a second term doesn’t come with much else besides tax breaks for the superrich... and we already know how well “trickle down” works. Their view of social responsibility does not include recognizing not everyone has disposable income. It seems if you lack that, you become the disposal part. 

And the Democrats, much to my dismay, are posing as poster children for political impotency.

How can you not be cynical?

But do you tell a construction worker who's lost his job that he'll just have to tough it out while there are roads and bridges desperately in need of repair...yet no funding to fix them? Can you say it's okay to reward companies that offshore jobs while pretty much telling the laid off workers, “Sucks to be you?”  Can you force a woman to carrying a child to term, and then let the child languish because there's no available health coverage or plan for education? Can you shout you want less government intrusion but say it's okay to intrude into our bedrooms?

Taking predatory advantage of someone who comes in good faith to get a mortgage is a vicious, morally bankrupt act. People may be generally stupid when it comes to deciphering fine print, but preying on them is expressly forbidden in that Bible book the candidates are always thumping. Stumbling block? Blind? Sound familiar? Oh, wait! There are no metaphors in their literal word world, are there? 

© 2011, Steven G. Artley, ARTLEY CARTOONS

Explain why anyone would want to strip away all environmental regulation.  What? Dumping toxic waste in rivers is suddenly okay?  I guess they’re guessing everyone can afford bottle water. And then, what do you do with the plastic bottles?  And who says our food isn't safe? Just ask the Iowa egg guys, the peanut guys in Georgia, or the cantaloupe grower guys in Colorado. They’ll assure you, scouts’ honor with a cherry on top, that we don’t need no stinkin’ food regulation in this country. Yep. All our food is all perfectly safe.

So here's my question: how do you get to the place where you can look in the mirror and say, “I don’t care what happens to air quality or nuclear waste or kids or the food chain or any of that stuff so long as it doesn't touch me personally?”

Everyone starts out with ideals that include social justice; you learned them in kindergarten when the teacher sent home notes about “works and plays well with others.” Maybe the challenge we face as Americans is re-convincing ourselves that we really do want to live in a society where life is as fair as we can make it, and that there are times when people actually do need help, and those who can should lend a hand.

Everyone has to ask "Can I live with what I do to contribute to the wellbeing of this community and this country?" and everyone has to answer it with brutal honesty. You don’t need to discuss it anyone, but you do have to look yourself squarely in the eye when you’re done and say, “I can live with this answer.”

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Got extra coats? Coat drives abound this time of year.
There are more cold people than available coats.


  1. That guy ain't no upstandin "right winger" cause the only Joplin us true Christian conservatives give a flying rat's ass about is the one found smack dab in Missoorah. Mebbe that's why youse called him "irregular".

  2. OK, I'm willing to lend a hand now that winter is upon us. Now that I live in the land of 10,000 lakes, I'm going to build some low cost housing and offer free rent! Only thing is.... you have to move by March 1st.


  3. I too know people with the "the only person you can rely on is yourself" credo. For most of them, however, if I looked more closely it was evident that each had relied on others many times and in many ways. We who are fortunate too often fail to recognize our advantages and just how many people around us gave us our future and continue to make our lives possibly nicer than we deserve.