Those coveted Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
In my mind today I'm thinking about hope. Times today seem so muddled with tragedies: illnesses, death, dishonesty, shrinking middle class, drug addictions, disunity, consumerism, greed, crime, and depression. Whew! What a list? It makes me think of my teaching days. Remember students? One of our objectives in literature and history was: the students will recognize and understand cause and effect. Well, today we are going to examine real life scenarios. Yes, look at that nice items in a series above. Let's get to work brainstorming! (I'm so enjoying this.)
First effect is illness. You're thinking, "Ms. Alley, we all get sick. Big deal." Yes students, it is a big deal. Let's list some causes: pollution in our environment, GMO's, hereditary, job related exposure, and poor health consciousness. How many of these can be prevented? Think. Probably all but one can, hereditary.
Next up is the death effect. Yes, I hear the back row mumbling, "We all have to die." Yes we do students, but let's look at some possible causes: random violence, self-inflicted, domestic violence, ATV and car accidents, catastrophic weather situations, neglect & abuse, abject poverty, and natural causes. Looks like only one of these is also preventable: natural causes. Makes you think.
Let's look at consumerism effects together and make some connections. Students, do we really need "stuff" to make us fit in or appear "better off" than others? #consumerismitus It's a tool used by industries to keep the "common" people in a constant swirl of debt in order to portray an image. How can we "keep up with the Jones"?" Here are some causes: high interest credit cards, spending all you make if you work and never saving, and feeling inferior from low self-esteem. We are all guilty. I remember in eighth grade crying, begging, and pleading with my mother for a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and monogrammed sweaters. Consumerism gets to us all, but thank goodness I grew up.
Let's now look at some effects lumped together: shrinking middle class, greed, drug addictions, depression, crime, dishonesty, and disunity. Here are some causes: low minimum wage, high pharmacy and medical costs (for the shrinking middle class), and pain clinics that take advantage of government subsidized poor benefits that are furnished by the shrinking middle class #greedanddrugaddictions & #241. Why can I buy meds, albuterol and inhaled steroids, for my husband's emphysema from other countries at 1/3 of what they cost here in the U.S.?
I'm not finished yet. Let's look causes of depression: mental and economic. Here are a few: drug dependence, big corporations, and business making astronomical profits while receiving subsidies from the government. These big profit businesses pay workers in a way that they have to depend on food stamps and government provided healthcare. The elderly that worked 40 years paying taxes and can barely afford food. Their social security check doesn't get raises to sustain them without government assistance (food stamps) or food pantries. What's a subsidy? Look at this basic definition I found on the internet: a grant or gift of money: such as a : a sum of money formerly granted by the British Parliament to the crown and raised by special taxation b : money granted by one state to another c : a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public
Students, if you make 15 billion in profits, do you need a subsidy, especially one of 9 billion dollars? Talk about trickle down economics. This causes dishonesty and disunity among the minions, you and me. We, common Americans, are the ones bickering about others with undeserved benefits and then spending our hard earned, taxed to pieces money at these venues that are the biggest spokes in the wheel of injustice. It's not a new concept. Remember feudalism, students? Nobles, clergy, and peasants were the social stratification. It's just rearing its head again in our culture. Yep students, we are the modern day peasants. Do you students still want the American dream? Do you want a home, a family, a dependable car, decent wages, and vacations? I hope you do. I'm sorry, students. I didn't know I was going to teach a micro-economics lesson. Let's find some hope.
Where is hope? What can we do to stop the "wheel of disparity"? Here's what I've gleaned so far.
1. Let's be "for" each other, regardless of economic status, education level, neighborhood, race, religion, immigrant or citizen, sexual preference, and government dependent or not. Drop our assumptions. Give hand-ups through helping provide resources to those willing to fight alongside us and help themselves. Provide resources that help others join the workforce: daycare, help with filling out applications, donating money or goods to non-profit organizations, volunteering, and "seeing and trying" to understand the plight of "all" Americans. I'm not ashamed that I was given hand-ups from my family, friends, and community. That's why I try desperately to give back.
2. Let's try to be less consumer and media crazy. This is a tough one. The media is a tool. It can be help or hurt. Remember this quote: Edgar Allan Poe — "Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear." Stop believing all the trash on the internet and media. It gets us in trouble. Turn it off and get out in the real world. Try to support businesses that are family owned or pay fair wages. Let's try to be a "united" country. I think that the reason Trump won the election is because middle class Americans really do want to "Make America Great Again." They believed in the propaganda. They drank the kool-aid that made us blame all those who are living in abject poverty and thinking they are the villains. It averted our attention from unfair employment wages and conditions. Pointing fingers doesn't solve the problem. Let's come together right now and be the solution.
3. We all want fair taxes, decent, not exuberant, wages, and our children to be more successful than we are. Right? If Americans could work and have a decent life, not strife, couldn't that be a healing balm for depression, crime, poverty, and disunity? We want to give each other a hand-up. That's why so many have died starting with the American Revolution: "So a man can stand up," as said in the classic book Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbes. Do you cry when you hear the song, "Proud To Be An American" sung by Lee Greenwood? Where is the hope? The hope resides within each of us, Americans. Can we find hope, again? We can create a "Wheel of Hope." I believe it, students, with all my heart.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Quotes of the Day:
"Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Jesus of Nazareth
"Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can."