Thursday, December 1, 2016


I know too many people who refer to their middle class lifestyles as "blessed". Really? Blessed? Want to know why I dislike organized religion? There's one good reason. 

Walking in my neighborhood entails sharing sidewalks with poor Black and Latino kids who are mostly passing through along a bus line from the subway to their neighborhoods. While they have ample bus service, one of the most frequent I have ever seen in Boston, my fellow pedestrians are most likely walking home or to the subway to avoid paying bus fare. Many of them look too tired to be doing it for recreation. They most likely don't feel blessed. They feel poor and tired.

Is it their fault they are not blessed? The arched eyebrows of a well-off Liberal are easily visualized in response to that question. That same Liberal cheats on his taxes through an accountant and votes for those who have consistently gutted public health and public education funds. He/she may own stock in for-profit hospitals or for-profit private schools. That same Liberal may be religious, possibly Roman Catholic, and does not support sex education, free birth control and abortion for impoverished women. Perhaps he/she would preach against single parent homes or the importance of the nuclear family. And other bullshit. I don't even have to review what a Conservative Republican would say. 

Many of my fellow pedestrians are the products of failed education and poor public health. They are more likely to suffer from addiction, obesity, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, malnutrition. Their poorly educated mothers have used their food stamps to buy carbohydrate-rich foods and liquids in a well meaning attempt to give their kids a sense of being nourished, or at least full. Their mothers have little time to cook nutritious meals.

Those same mothers have been forced to take low-paying jobs after having multiple children with the encouragement of government infancy-support programs. In other words, some of those mothers had one child after another to keep their ongoing welfare payments for children under two. Subsequently, as their children age, they are more burdened and less likely to be able to fund their children's education and general well being.

The leaders of the world should be ashamed. They know all this. They have known it for generations. But honest shame is not a component of megalomania. Just follow Trump on Twitter. Just look into Clinton hypocrisy. 

I am neither blessed nor ashamed, but I did luck out with parents. My mother was not lucky. Her father was an alcoholic immigrant laborer whose pay transformed magically into beer and then evaporated. Her mother was an illiterate sweat-shop worker, also an immigrant, whose anger over her bad luck in her parents, peasant farmers in Eastern Europe with fifteen children, sat around her like a black Jovian cloud, bristling with lightening.

My father was luckier. His father was a humorous Irish-American who was sober, self-educated and wise. His mother was born to immigrant bourgeoisie. She had a nanny as a babe and was educated in fine convent schools. Then she eloped with my traveling salesman grandfather. And that was that. Due to my grandfather's crippling accident at a young age, my father's family lived a very modest life on fixed disability payments, supplemented by my grandfather's post as church sexton. They lived joyfully and with generous hearts. 

I know that I have profited from the coincidences of my birth. I had nothing to do with it. My parents worked hard and made me work hard from an early age. That was a gift. They taught me the balance between money and happiness, in part by negative example. And, now that I am in my older years, their scrupulous management of their finances has provided me with some additional resources. The bulk of my resources, however, is the cumulative product of my own hard work, investment and saving. I was able to develop those resources because I had a good early education which taught me self-education methods and lifelong-learning habits.

There is nothing to be done for the too-numerous children of the too-numerous poor other than educating them not to duplicate the poverty of their own births. But society all over the world is doing the opposite. Capitalism is lecturing us on "growth" rather than conservation. Capitalism is the new religion of destruction of the greater quality of human life in support of the luxury of the blessed few. As long as the mythology of "more is more" exists in media, from pulpits and in universities, the quality of overall human life will diminish. Parents shape the world, indeed. They just aren't doing a great job. And the more "blessed" they are, the less interested they seem in stopping the madness. 

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