When the Watergate scandal broke, I was just old enough to grasp that something really bad, shocking in fact had happened. That was before “shocking” became just another mot du jour and scandals were not reality shows.
I was raised by blue-dog Democrats who lived by the rules of the Greatest Generation: God, family, community and country. Hard work and a good education “pay”. Do unto others as you would have them do unto (unless it’s your brother or sister then go duke it out) you. Be home when the street light turns on (in the summer).
The coolest thing about watching a man land on the moon was that I had a relative who was over one hundred years old who was alive to see it happen. Imagine that! He was alive before cars. He lived through two World Wars and saw an astronaut walk on the moon and you know what? He received a letter congratulating him on his 100th birthday from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I saw it myself and was utterly awestruck.
We were not touched by cynicism, sarcasm or self-pity. We were not victims, even if life was hard raising a large family on a working class single income and there were times things were tight. I have worked since I was about ten years old and could not begin to count how many jobs I have had over the years to save to buy a bike, go to college and work while in college; work after college and work multiple jobs while in grad school; work after grad school to pay for grad school. After grad school, working full-time I made about the same amount of money as the welfare families I was being paid to help and did not resent them, for their struggles were different than mine and I had chosen my path. Okay, I would have liked to have been able to afford a decent TV and stereo, but I did have a used car and that put me in a different league.
Years have flown by, and this has happened, and that has happened, and I went here, and there……and I participated in what came to be known a few years ago as, “civic engagement”. I was doing it because you are supposed to participate in your life and community is part of life.
More years flew by and I learned a bit more about the underbelly of politics and that most of the folks who were “head cases” were running loose in society…..lots of them serving on the same committees I was serving on. They say “water seeks its own level.” Yah.
Real life experiences began to happen with my “civic engagement” like learning that there are some people who have power, guns and badges who are really sick people. And there are people who hate deeply. And there are people who really, really do lie. Some of them are really hard to detect because they totally believe their lies.
Well, I was late to the dance, but found myself swaying to the music of Hope and Together We Can. I wanted to believe…..the Regan-Clinton-Bush eras debacles of slicing the middle-class to shreds and outsourcing our jobs while monopolies consolidated power, and the power of votes became a commodity to the highest special interest fundraisers were crushing.
I had a touch of cynicism. Just a touch and wanted to put it aside. I voted for the Patrick-Murray ticket believing like I had not believed before that we had the right combination to lead us forward to better days.
“Civic Engagement!” Wahoo!, you bet and with genuine excitement and fervor! Slowly, the deeper I walked into the center of the political fray, I began to see, feel and touch the rotten essence of politics in Massachusetts.
Activists are widgets, money is king. The past five years have brought utter prosperity to my cynicism. It has flowered and grown to toxic proportions.
The failures that have forever soured me to “civic engagement” are not of human mistakes but rather calculated human lies, deceptions and manipulations. My cynicism is non-partisan and includes media as an enabler and abettor to the decline in our society. It has been painful, these past many moons to come to grips with a failed presidency.
Yes, I will take it beyond the conventional “ineffective” semantics currently being used to describe the Obama administration. And while I continue find our Governor intriguing, his words and behaviors do not always match. I am a fighter by nature and have like many old soldiers, I suppose, just wanted the battle to end. I have wanted my fighting patriotic spirit to die and rest in peace. I have wanted to surrender to the reality that we are an empire in a long painful decline. I have wanted the bliss of apathy and being able to let go.
And they were singing, “bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry…….them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye………”
Best wishes to those who still believe. You’ll find me in the big tent of unbelievers. But, no worries, I will find a good cause to pursue.