I have always been afraid. The reason may have varied, but by and large I’ve bee afraid because I am constantly scanning my environment for potential threats to my person or my delicate emotional state. I’m so highly sensitive, so effected by changes in my environment, that even the slightest shift in the direction of the wind makes me perk up with anxiety. I am always wondering, waiting in that liminal space between hearing first one shoe to fall to the floor and anticipating the other. The state of suspension is fraught with the possibility of disaster. When will it be? When is the other shoe going to drop and blow up my whole world?
I’ve always been this way. I have always been waiting for the next blow the land. I try to go through the motions of daily life on guard, protecting my vulnerabilities, just in case the strike should come from someplace unforeseen. Predictability is my shield and my routine is a weapon. So long as everything stays the same, precisely the same as it has always been, I will be okay. Nothing can hurt me so long as I stay quiet and still.
This stagnation is the root cause of my stunted growth. Not much progress can be made if you’re withdrawn and protective. Instinct drives me to reach out and touch the world around me. Desire for the new, the innovative, the unexplored drives me. Fear holds me back. It’s all irrational fear, to be certain, but it’s overwhelmingly powerful. My mind repeats insistently, “If we go outside, we’ll get hurt.” If I deviate from my well-trodden path, even a little bit, I’m opening the door to disaster.
Recently, though, I invited disaster in.
I can’t say what made me do it. Perhaps it was just a change in the wind. Maybe I fooled myself into thinking that it wouldn’t be that great a leap. Either way, as soon as I gathered the courage to I step off my beaten track, I ran like the hounds of hell were at my heels.
I burned some bridges along the way. It had to be done, so no unfriendly horde could chase me down and lock me in again. I untethered myself from those people and things that have fed on my fear and incited it. Their fury is great, but my drive is greater. I can see — clearly, blessedly, finally — the path that leads to the next step. I can see my best life waiting for me at the end of that path, and the road is clear. It took one bold leap to remove me from the quagmire of doubt and onto a path of certainty. And all it took to leap was one simple command, spoken by my heart to my nervous soul: press go. And so I went.
Listen, I don’t know a lot about radio shows, or how they are produced, or what goes into making one, or how hosts are (or aren’t) held accountable for what is said on air, so all of this is just my own opinion, said for my benefit (otherwise, I’ll just be bottled up and pissy all day, and that is not a pretty picture) and hopefully for your entertainment (my friends tell me I’m funny – I’m certain they’re just being nice). If anything that follows pisses you off, go write your own blog.
That being said, I think that before an individual of a certain authority (and let’s face it, even radio hosts have some sway) deigns to present something to the general public as a bonafide – or even as a supposed – fact, there ought to be a little thought, a little research, or hell, failing any of that, a little bit of human compassion to deployed to modulate it. Call me a softy, but I don’t think you should just get up there on your soapbox and start barking at passer-by, preaching as if it were the Gospel, oblivious (or uncaring) of who you might injure with your message.
So, I hop into the car at seven this morning and I don’t quite catch the beginning of what they’re talking about, but I quickly get the gist: the iPhone 6 has just been officially announced and people are all in a tizzy. Hudson and Scotty B are actually discussing people’s tendency to go so over-the-top-apeshit over these new devices that they will willingly drive themselves into debt in order to possess one, and how ridiculous the “buy-more-get-more” mentality has become in our culture. I’m nodding along as I drive, because I agree – I don’t really see the point in having the new “IT” device as soon as it is debuted. Truth be known, I swore off the iPhone for years and years thinking it an over-priced, over-blown piece of fluff technology. Now that I finally have one, I like it quite a lot, though I expect that I’m going to keep it for at least another five years, considering how much I paid for it.
That aside, the more the radio hosts talked, it came around to the subject of welfare or food stamp abuse – they started to discuss those folks who show up to the welfare office in a Mercedes or whom you see in the line at the grocery store using food stamps, dressed to the nines, hair done, nails manicured, with the newest iPhone or Android device, and how it just ain’t right that these people, who are living on tax payer dollars mind you, possess any kind of luxury. They even had a caller, formerly from Virginia, whose wife had worked in a state office passing out the checks – and don’t know it? She saw at least ten or fifteen of these blatant welfare abusers everyday!
And that was when the (internal) fight started.
You see, that whole mentality just pisses me off. Who the fuck are you to judge these people? I said to my radio. You don’t know the first thing about who they are, where they have come from, or what they have lived through.
Tell me how your long-distance observations have justified the extent of your knowledge regarding what turn of event put them in a position to be in the welfare office collecting benefits? You don’t know if they were recently working for a very profitable and successful business that suddenly crashed and had to close its doors, and they lost their six-figure job. Now they, along with their five kids, are living in Grandma’s basement trying to make ends meet on just that one welfare check. Not only might they be adjusting to living on a quarter of the income, but consider this: if you lost your livelihood, how willing are you to immediately abandon your very way of life in that time of insecurity? Few people are going to go ahead and give up on the ways of life and the things that they did before immediately following such a disruption, and crippling, lose-your-home-your-savings-your-will-to-live debt can come upon a person very quickly.
Frankly, if I lost my job tomorrow, I would not sell my nice, reliable car nor my fancy smart phone in order to make ends meet. I would be using that car and that phone every day to try and land another job to support my family. I would also (since I’m a sign language professional) spend the money to get or perform on myself a damn good manicure, thank you very much. It’s called a professional persona, and that is how you differentiate yourself from hundreds of other qualified applicants in an overly saturated job market. I would then do my hair, put on whatever I had in my closet that looked the best, go down to the welfare office, pick up my check, and go back to job hunting, you stuck up, judgmental turd!
The presumption by laypersons that individuals who receive benefits are somehow taking advantage of the system is not only cynical, it is downright diabolical. Rather than making flash judgments and immediately putting each other down, shouldn’t we be empowering one another and lifting each other up? Here’s a thought: instead of, “Oh, I bet she uses her welfare money to buy booze and cigarettes…” change it up to a more compassionate, “Hm, I bet she came on real hard times real fast to end up here. She must be trying hard to get back.” A little bit of compassion will go a long way, and trust me, it will save your soul.
Because, honestly, how dare you? I don’t mean to say that there aren’t people that take advantage of the system – certainly, there are. But you know whose job it is to weed those folks out? The case workers and government employees that accept and approve applications for assistance. Period. End of discussion. It is not up to you or me or Joe Blow in the supermarket to pass judgment on another human being that we have never even spoken a passing word to. If you tend to look at a person who receives benefits and assume that they have an ulterior motive or are misusing tax payer money in someway, that says a great deal more about you than it does about the people in the system.
For me, this issue hits close to home. My family doesn’t receive any kind of assistance – though it would be helpful, I won’t lie. My husband and I work four jobs just to keep up with the cost of living in the state of Hawaii. I wasn’t raised on welfare either, but my four older siblings were (that’s them in the featured photo, I’m the shiny forehead with fringe). Our mother was only able to go back to school and get her nursing license because of the welfare program in the state of California – a program that, at the time, many people wanted to have limited to just one year, when the nursing program took two to complete. I probably would have had a very different life if things had turned out differently, and for that I’m grateful.
Anyway, I think I’ll start listening to a different morning radio station, to be perfectly honest. Hudson and Scotty B are cool, and most of the time, they really made me laugh. In this instance, they said that they weren’t trying to be “preachy”. But if that was the case, guys, (I hate to say it, but): Epic. Fail.
Next time on “Irrational Anger” see “Evening News Irrational Anger” when we talk about the “Homeless Problem” and how increasing numbers of metropolitan areas try to solve the “Homeless Problem” by making the condition of being homeless illegal.