Specialness

Posted on September 10, 2010

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    So, I harbored this idea for a long time that I was somehow special and would rise above my circumstances into a comfortable lifestyle which would enable me to live out my dreams. After all, my parents rose above their circumstances into the middle-class of America as self-employed (therefore self-empowered) individuals. And since, of course, my circumstances were better than theirs than maybe I could go even further.

    I grew up a little and realized that that is no longer the world we live in. That kind of upward mobility is no longer quite as accessible as it was before. The divide between the haves and the have-nots is becoming impossible to bridge. And as a result, we (the have-nots) are developing the feeling that we are reaching up for nothing. That maybe right where we are is going to have to be good enough. Maybe our specialness needs to be redirected into more aesthetic, artistic, social, intellectual, non-intellectual, whatever pursuits. Because, the pursuit of a better life financially, just seems too far off.

    I think it is part of the evolution of the human being through one’s life, of course, to experience or yearn for specialness and than try to create or recreate it in your own life as an adult. It’s ONLY natural. But isn’t a natural part of life to also begin to realize the limitations of that specialness? To grow out of the absurdities of absolutism and into a realization of the complex and interconnected world in which we live in?

    My daughter said to me the other day, “Look, there’s another car just like yours! There must be another mommy in it with her kids. Only mommies drive cars like yours!” … My daughter is 5.

    I don’t drive a mini-van, but it’s reasonable to suppose that my lovely little Sante Fe has attracted many a mother. I see them everywhere, all the time, but does that mean that every Sante Fe on the road is carrying a mom and her kids? No, of course not. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who bought one for reasons other than mom-mobility. So, why in the world do we continue to think like this as adults?

    Why, then, are we so attached to the political absolutes? Why is everything so black and white? Why do we think, “It worked before it’ll work again?” How could it work again under different circumstances, and if it does work again, how about the stuff that didn’t work? No one wants to look at the particulars, or the failings; just the good stuff and the common connections.

    We all want to think that our solutions to America’s woes are special and absolutely right, but none of us want to think about the flaws to those solutions, the history of their implementations. Michael Moore recently blessed our labor day weekend with a letter to Rahm Emanuel reacting to word that Mr. Emanuel has been quoted as saying “Fuck the UAW!” (“Happy F—ing Labor Day, Rahm!” http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-09-07/michael-moore-to-rahm-emanuel-happy-fuckin-labor-day/ )

      “You see, Rahm, when people earn a fucking good wage, they spend it on stuff, which then creates more good-paying jobs, and then the middle class grows fucking big. Did you know that back when I was a kid if you had a parent making a union wage, only one parent had to work?! And they were home by 3 or 4 p.m., 5:30 at the latest! We had dinner together! Dad had four weeks paid vacation. We all had free health and dental care. And anyone with decent grades went to college and it didn’t fucking bankrupt them. (And if you ever used the F-word, the nuns would straighten you out in ways that even you couldn’t bear to hear about.)

      Then a Republican fired all the air-traffic controllers, a Democrat gave us NAFTA, and millions of jobs were moved overseas. (Hey, didn’t you work in that White House, too? “Fuck the UAW, baby!”) Unions got scared and beaten down, a frat boy became president and, like a drunk out of control, spent all our fucking money and our children’s money, too. Fuck.”

    So, Unions created the middle-class, thank you Unions, but what about the ultimate cost of unions of creating an economy that was inflexible and not so well suited for the creative, progressive, flexible, bigger, better, more, now, entrepreneurial, growth-oriented spirit of America. How could our companies grow, change, and compete when under the harsh and heavy thumb of unions? Don’t get me wrong, I believe in supporting the worker and for holding companies accountable for their actions, but the mistake of the unions was the resulting stagnation which played a key role in the outmoding of the American Automobile Worker.

    Everywhere you turn (most places), in the media, in spirited political debate between friends or colleagues, everyone (most people) have BIG ideas, BIG thoughts about our countries problems, and most solutions are based on absolutism. For instance, if you ask a Libertarian about taxes, they will tell you there should be none. If you ask the Libertarian about public services, then they will tell you those should all be run by private companies… Once you get into the particulars of corporate failings and the concept of non-profits as organizations, then things get heated, or the conversation ends.

    Specialness: According to Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specialness):

    “1. Distinguished by some unusual quality, especially: being in some superior way

    2. Held in particular esteem”

    Our individual and collective ideas of ‘specialness’ possibly need some revisions. Maybe we got lost along the way of figuring that into our sense of selves. Maybe we were so immersed in creating our own ideas of individuality that we forgot to consider the whole. Maybe the nostalgia of the past, Michael, has kept us from looking into the future. The ability to plan ahead and fully consider the consequences of our actions (that is an essential part of the evolution our cognitive psychology) has somehow been stumped, miswired or turned around. Or perhaps, it just hasn’t happened yet on the level of our collective subconscious.

    Either way, looking back at the past and into the future, none of our old ideas are going to work as well as we want them too, since they all have something to do with our current predicament. We need to grow up and out of our past and start getting some new ideas, think about the particulars, the good and the bad and the in between, or else, how will we ever learn?