Thursday, March 10, 2016

CARRYING YOUR WEIGHT?


I was very fortunate to have a paternal grandfather who was an apolitical socialist. He was born in 1883 to poor Irish-American parents with thirteen children in Danvers, Massachusetts, then primarily a farming community north of Boston. His father had been brought to the U.S. from Bantry, Ireland, as an infant during the Irish Famine. My grandfather, James Andrew Creeden, knew relative financial security and the depths of poverty during various periods of his 78 years. 

My grandfather's socialism was based in his self-education and his basic belief in ethical Christianity. He went to work in a leather processing plant at the age of nine to help support his family. One of the few areas of contention between him and my father was my grandfather's disappointment in my father's refusal to pursue a higher education. Despite this, my grandfather frequently voiced his appreciation of my father's dedication to doing the right thing.

My consciousness from an early age was flavored with a learned awareness that I would need to carry my own weight in life. Our family was not poor. My father, a policeman, carpenter and real estate agent, worked sixteen or twenty hours a day to provide us with a middle-class life. My mother maintained our household and also worked a full week. She was a self-taught bookkeeper and administrative assistant whose employers valued her greatly. My mother had left nursing school to support her Russian-immigrant mother and younger sister when my Lithuanian-immigrant blacksmith grandfather bottomed out as an abusive drunk. 

My parents had not been given money or luxury of any kind as children or adults. That standard applied to my older brother and me. We were expected to grow up to be independent and useful citizens. We were expected to support ourselves and to work for society in some capacity. My parents tried relentlessly to choose a socially relevant field and get rich. It stuck with my brother who became a successful dentist. I chose a humbler route. I taught high school and eventually became a registered nurse. 

As I watch the persistent indoctrination by corporate and fiduciary capitalists in today's American media, I plainly see the core reason why our society is becoming less and less humane. Middle-class children are being raised by capitalist parents to become celebrities or rich entrepreneurs. They are being raised to be (profit) takers, not givers. Carrying society's weight is being designated to the poor or those who cannot "cut it" in finance or business. Actually, carrying society's weight is being consigned more and more to those who are not born well off. And this is not new.

I chose to speak of carrying my own weight intentionally. Look at the part obesity plays in advanced societies. As many in the lower income brackets become obese, they are less likely to carry the weight consigned to them by the economic caste system. In fact, they themselves contribute to the overall weight of social needs. They require more medical care and work less efficiently. This makes them even more dispensable when technology can replace them. This will inevitably intensify societal unrest and dysfunction

I believe we are at a point in the U.S. when a societal shift must occur if we wish to remain a prosperous nation in concert with international partners who are committed to healing our damaged planet. Our most privileged young people must be convinced to dedicate their life work to social causes rather than making more money for their aristocratic blood lines. Our government must change its focus from creating personal wealth to creating generalized social well being. I encourage anyone who bothers to read this to consider carrying your own weight in whatever way you feel you are able. And, if you have influence over young minds, please ask them to consider becoming givers, not takers. 


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