I grew up in the church.
My father is a minister which meant I went to church every Sunday, did the whole baptism, confirmation, altar boy thing and when I was twelve, he took a new job at a church populated with a lot of people who had a lot of money. Not all, granted, but enough of them and I remember being about fifteen and watching this new couple begin attending services. They didn’t seem to be like the rest of the people in the church. The guy looked like a biker and his wife wore the road map of someone who’d ridden the harder life. He smoked. She wore too much make-up. He had tattoo’s. Her eyes were worn. As a teenager who was just learning the rejection of everything I’d previously known, I found them fascinating and looked for them every Sunday. I also noticed how they were treated by the other parishioners in nice suits and comfortable dresses.
I watched the parishioners whisper. I watched many be less than welcoming. I remember watching my father trying to make that couple feel comfortable, but soon enough the couple left, and I remember all of this because on that snowy morning, a cynic was born. No mangers, no wise men, no kings, just me looking on disappointed at my father’s congregation and a newer confirmation of what I had begun to realize about the people of that church…many of them were snobs, many of them wouldn’t or didn’t try to put themselves in that couples shoes.
Well lately, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading the comments sections of a number of online newspapers articles and I’ve realized a couple of things, yet again…
1. There are a lot of assholes out there and they like to write in the online comments sections.
2. Oftentimes, the person who rose up against the odds through self-professed hard work, determination and a lot of luck seems to check his compassion at the door to trash the people who don’t conform to his very rigid bootstraps.
3. Rather than helping others, a lot of people would rather just reject those in need, except at Christmas of course, sometimes.
So when I read stories about people who have lost their businesses as a result or indirect result of BP’s oil spill and Feinberg’s Scroogian ways, or even just the bad economy and then I scroll down to the comments section and see this or that person trashed by those that take the time to write such things…while it does make my cynical heart beat a little faster it also reminds me of those days at fifteen, and I feel disappointed all over again.
When I read about Matt Drouillard, or Patti Wooley or the situation I mentioned yesterday, with Candi Cook who filed a claim and though paid a little by BP, was denied anything by Feinberg and the GCCF, and then I click to the comments section and read such things like:
WHO CARES…. Your business isn’t creating revenue then go look for a job like the rest of the USA. You were denied because you couldn’t prove a loss on a business that wasn’t creating revenue since 08 in the first place
New rules coming next year; you have to stand on your own two feet. No more pay for not working, this country has to return to the principles that made her great or we all go under and there is nothing left for your children. There was never a rule everyone was entitled to everything, just the opportunity to try. If you are not trying the rest of us are not going to carry you. I have been unemployed, I have gone without health insurance, I have never taken a handout, and I can speak the truth, I have earned it as so many others. Let us not write stories on these people, let us write stories on the heroes making success with hard work and sweat. Stop trying to prove how bad it is and start showing what can be achieved!
When I read that, what am I supposed to think?
Well, I could agree and say, hey…they’re right. If one person can do it, anybody can. America is the land of opportunity and if you don’t make it, it’s obviously your fault for not trying hard enough, for not being smart enough, for just not getting it.
Or, I could say, “Hey, you collective pair of jackasses, maybe you could lend a hand rather than a kick in the face. Maybe if you’re such a sound business person, ya might give a call with a few business tips. Maybe you could stop your rhetoric for a minute to think about how not everybody has two feet to stand on and a lot of people have three or four and maybe, just because you were there once and found your way out doesn’t mean you have to be so ridiculously bitter towards those that are there now. Maybe someday you will finally get rewarded and someone will write a story about you, the hero, the one who did it with no handouts, who speaks the truth.”
Or maybe you can stop your self worship for a moment and help out because one of the principles of this country, the principles that made this country great was the way people looked out for one another and built communities, the same kind of communities your judgmental bullshit destroys.
Or don’t, your choice.
I’m a cynic, so no matter what you do I get to win, either by confirmation of my cynicism or the good feelings produced by seeing others helping others get by.
Again, your choice.
In either case, just like I wonder about the people of the Gulf Coast, what it is they are going through and how they are going to make it, I wonder about that couple way back at my dad’s church and I hope if they did find a new congregation, they found one that wasn’t filled with a bunch of jackwagons from the online comments sections.
Congregations are community and community is what we need more of, especially these days, because cynicism without productivity or any hope whatsoever is a zero-sum game.
Have a nice day.