–And I Feel Fine

February 9, 2009 at 8:22 PM | Posted in Personal | Leave a comment
  The ideal, perfect, happiest Leave-It-To-Beaver situation, of course, is this:
  The man of the house works 40 hours per week, 9 to 5 (or 8 to 4 Central Time) Monday through Friday.  He has a wife who doesn’t work outside the home, but instead takes care of the house and the 2.4 children.  Perhaps she volunteers a few hours per week, and is also a member of some ladies’ club.  The single income is enough to provide a good living, not to mention a savings.  There is also insurance and a pension.
  Everyone is happy, healthy, well-adjusted and not subjected to trauma.  They are all well-educated and well-fed, and excellent opportunities for advancement fall in their laps.
  After the kids move out–first to college and then to careers and marriage of their own–the happy couple continue in their happy life.  The man eventually retires.  The woman continues, of course, to take care of the house.  On weekends the grandchildren visit.  They putter around in the yard, making the perfect lawn.  Eventually the man dies, leaving behind insurance and pension for his widow.  She continues to take care of the house until she no longer can.  She then moves in with her daughter and her family, who has continued in this cycle with a husband and 2.4 kids.
  And they all live happily ever after, until they die.

  Has it ever been like that, ever?  Really?  Other than for a bried period of time  and for a select chosen few, I’d have to say no.  My parents were close to this idea, but even so it was not–  You know, I just realized that Detroit’s family was closer to "living the dream," more or less.  Right down to the 2.4 kids.
  I thought I had it good.  My parents both worked, and I grew up in that magical time known as the 1970s.  I’m sure I see it through psychedelic-colored glasses, but will we ever have it that good again?  And did we, then, have it as good as I remember?
  Compared to how it is anywhere else in the world, and any other time in history, we’ve had it pretty good here in ‘Merica.  Even as we zero in on America and see some poverty and some broken homes…and broken dreams.  And even the homes that aren’t broken, many of them are bent.  It’s odd to look at my own life and see it as a microcosm of the current geo-political and socio-economic paradigm because I’m a bit to close to it, but nonetheless:  there it is.
  However, from both within and without, what I have seen is the remarkable ability of humans–us people–to adapt.  I think that is one of the things that makes us human.  Whatever shit gets thrown at us, we deal with it.  Not just here in America, but all over the world.  Take Afghanistan, or any 3rd world-backwater-shithole country in Africa.  If we did what we sometimes contemplate, and "Bomb them back to the Stone Age," for Afghanistan that would be the middle of last week.  For some places in Africa, it would catapult them into a futuristic utopia.
  These people adapt and live…perhaps "thrive" is a strong word.  But they do well.  Well enough, anyway.  I mean, I’d be scampering over the mountains to get the hell out of there at any cost, but not them.  What makes them stay?  Most don’t see a way out of their situation, and for the most part, I agree; you play the hand you are dealt.  And play it they do.  There is a reason why there are billions of people on this planet.  We have found ways to adapt.  Scorching desert, snowy mountains, barren hills, deadly jungle–there is much variety to the human existence.
  By comparison even people living in poverty in this country have quite a bit more to lose.  Utilities, food stamps, and welfare programs, not to mention TV, cell phones and other electronic modern conveniences that keep their standard of living higher than the average of the rest of the world.  Not higher than the rest of the poverty-stricken world, but the rest of the world, period.
  My point then is, if something happens to Civilization (and by "Civilization" I mean "America") even the least of us will have much, much further to fall.

  So.  Is that it?  Is that our test?  Or is that our fate?  You can say "if" but I say "when" our civilization comes crashing down, we will learn our true mettle.
  And we will learn our ability to adapt.  Right now, I’m not as concerned about cannibalism as I am about paying my utilities.  This is about survival, and at any point my priorities may change.  Maybe civilization won’t collapse to the point of a Road-Warrior-like existence.  Maybe it won’t even be as bad as the Great Depression in the early 20th century (don’t let the media fool you, kids–this is no where near as bad).  But to whatever degree we do retreat, there will be some adapting.
  Many people are learning it already.  Taking second jobs, lowering expenses, and hunkering down in other ways.  I’ve been working a second job for ten years, so I’ve been ready for this for a while.
  But despite Obama’s promise of hope and change…
  Hope and change comes from inside of each of *US*.  The best I can "hope" for from the government is for them to not get in my way too much.  The best "change" I can think of is to not be taxed into extinction.  Let me be, and I’ll find a way on my own to survive. 
  Help from the government in this situation is exactly like giving CPR to someone  who is bleeding to death.  When you push on my chest, you’re just squeezing the blood out faster.

  Let me meander back to the point I originally intended to make.  As part of survival, and adaptability, we change.  The black and white world of Donna Reed is as much a fairy tale as Hansel and Gretal.  How are families and extended families structured in other parts of the world?  Some of them are at least as complex as mine, if not more.
  The new Nuclear Family is an amalgam of the pioneer days extended family and the modern days dysfunctional family.  Instead of genetic consanguinity as the bond holding us together, it’s a combination of genetics, emotion, and common-law.
  My complete direct family is this entire group:
  1 my two children who live with my ex
  2 my two adult step-children
  3 their children, my first wave of grandchildren
  4 my fiance (call it a common-law marriage)
  5 her two (semi) adult children
  6 her mother
  The only two people related to my by blood are my two children. 
  I guess I need to have pictures of all these assholes on the wall.  But this is the group that I feel the primary responsibility to to consider as "family."  Throw my ex wife in there too, and that would be one helluva family portrait.
  But then the inner core of that group is 1, 4, 5, and 6.  All the people who live with me, plus my genetic offspring.  This is the group I support.
  My curiosity got the better of me, and I looked it up.  The best way to describe my group is as a "clan."  I think that explains it.  Although when I think of "clan," I think of dirty, hairy people wearing fur and trudging across some frozen tundra.  Is that the past, or is the future?
 
  It’s a complex world, isn’t it?

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