Saturday, June 18, 2005


The other day, I had quite a lengthy conversation with an acquaintance of mine. A self-professed "conservative", he wanted to share his philosophy of life with me, I think to reinforce his own, rather bizarre, world view. I, rightly, assumed, that he'd read about my activism, political and otherwise, and found it curious that I "think" so differently than he does. He hoped to "straighten me out" a little and enlighten me.

I could see through the course of our little "chat" that he's one of those not-so-rare conservatives for whom the word "Republican" actually means something. He honestly believes he is part of a team. His "team" values him as a player and is grateful for his meager input and
support. This reminded me of a guy I used to work with who would wear New York Yankees paraphrenalia everywhere he went. When the "Millionaires" lost a game he would talk about how "we lost" the game. He would be genuinely depressed as if he was the one who had struck out or made the errors. Talk about delusional!

Regardless, lets call the man I was talking with, "Con". Con drives an SUV with pro-war bumper stickers on it. He stops short of displaying
"W" and "God Bless America" stickers, but he's got two "Support Our Troops" ribbons and one "Power of Pride" bumper sticker. If you showed Con a "Power of Propaganda" bumper sticker, I think he would scratch his head and wonder what it was supposed to mean, exactly.

Con owns several pieces of real estate. He fixes them up and then rents out the apartments to tenants. Thats arguably good honest work. No harm done. Cleaning up, regentrifying, all that. Cool. I have no problem with people trying to make things better than they were before. He gets a gold star for that. However, he also jacks up the rent once the places are fixed up so as to maximize his profit and rid himself of "questionable" tenants. Of course, its those who complain about paying higher rents who are most often found to be "questionable".

Con seemed overwhemingly concerned about abstract concepts like the "moral fabric" of our country. He claimed to believe in the good old-fashioned American work ethic. His version of that ethic is a little different than mine, to be sure, but there was a mutual awareness that
intense labor by both slaves and immigrants built our country. Con
basically opined that anyone who doesn't just put his or her head down and "scrape and paint and clean" is not really a productive soul. He talked about how, in his view, there are really only two types of people; Those who DO and Those who WHINE. I said I thought that he should add at least two more groups to this somewhat narrow view; Those who are MADE TO DO and Those who choose to DO for OTHERS.

He couldn't see the margin in adding those other groups and continued
on about "survival of the fittest". I asked him if he thought that he, himself, could survive on the streets or in a desert or in a third-world country, if he had to. He said that our country was built specifically to prevent that from happening. It was built on the premise that if you work hard, you will be able to survive. Americans need deal with these extremes no longer. Con doesn't feel any need to worry about those in other countries. People who actually have to suffer through life in these extremes should get together to fight their plight but, either way, its simply not his concern. To think of our own homeless or those starving in the third world is an irrelevent thought to him. He simply can not empathize. "Survival of the fittest", he said again, as if to rationalize his lack of connectedness and intense callousness.

I think that this is just self-delusional propaganda white men tell each other to assuage the guilt they feel at their own greed and stupidity. I can only say that people like Con seem bizarrely deluded. They actually think that the machine (which is God, in their minds) has singled them out so as to shower them with preferential treatment. Others, apparently, aren't worthy.

Conservatives have conned themselves into believing that they "succeed" solely because they are worthy. They arrogantly believe that they are better and faster and stronger and smarter than the average human being. I, on the other hand, can make a list of all of the breaks I have had since day one. I know, in this era of globalization, that we are all two paychecks away from being totally destitute. I feel grateful for the luck and the blessings bestowed upon me and mine and feel it is my duty to share any "success" I may have had with those who have not been as blessed with luck, guidance, experience or opportunity. To me, financial success has little or nothing to do with worth or effort. I have known many workers who kill themselves just to survive. I have also known many in the "upper crust" who seem to spend an awful lot of time on the golf course for people so well-compensated for their meager efforts. I can only conclude form my life experience that worthiness rarely enters the equation.

Con, and those who share his worldview, want to keep it all to themselves. they rationalize their greed and self-love by repeating the mantra to themselves, "I am especially worthy. I am especially worthy."

No, you are not especially worthy. In fact, you are especially unworthy! You simply can not be a good human being and lack both compassion and humility. Its an unconscious and ignorant way to live. Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King are examples of good human beings. They didn't live in bubbles of arrogance and self-delusion. The problem with their worldview, admittedly, is that people have to actually see the benefit in having all human beings actually caring about each other. Con, and his ilk, apparently can't see the margin in thinking like an altruist.

I left our conversation wondering how such an empty, selfish man could possibly be satisfied to live such a small, meaningless life. Then, I looked around at the society that spawned him .... and it all made perfect sense.


Blogger Anny said...

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3:33 PM  

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