The DNC and the Story of Us

I understand it, in a way.

There’s a comfort in being alone. If you’re all you’ve got, you’re all you’ve got to worry about. You’re all you’ve got to protect. You’re all you’ve got to feed, and clothe, and pay, and pray for. You know what’s yours, and you know what you’re capable of. There’s a solidity in that, a relief.

And it’s a lie.

We are none of us alone.

You can try to be. You can try all you want. You can wall yourself off, behind a wall of money or anger or hate or fear. You can crawl into your hole and swear you’ll never come out.

But eventually someone finds you. They always do. Somebody is always knocking on the door. Sending you an e-mail, a letter, a note. Calling you up. Saying hello on the street. Pushing you, changing you, loving you, no matter how hard you resist. Somebody always finds a way in, and then you’re lost, you’re in it, you’re a part of the world.

That’s the price. And the reward. And over and over in speeches all week that’s what we’ve been hearing about. About the ways in which we engage one another, and the rewards of the same.

Good schools benefit me, though I have no children.

A good job for me benefits you, because I can buy food at your store.

A pension for you benefits me, because you stay in your home, and are my good neighbor.

You defend me in the military, and I care for you when you are wounded.

I am sick, and you pay for my medicine, and you are sick, and I pay for yours.

These are the deals we make, and should make. Listen to Sister Simone:

Listen to that. That is love without limits. Call it Christ if you want, I have no problem with that. I’m not sure it matters what you call it, though, because that isn’t a bludgeon. That is a torch.

We are so scared, everybody who listened to last week’s RNC speeches about me and mine and what I built and what you owe me and how you’re lazy and I’m the only hard worker here. We are so scared that everybody else isn’t going to hold up their end of the bargain. We are so scared to get taken for suckers, to have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes.

Guess what? That’s all this is. That’s all life is, every day. Mistakes and misfortunes and struggles. Not a day goes by something doesn’t happen where you thinkoh damn not this again not now, no matter how well off you are. And all we are saying, all week long in Charlotte, is that when that happens, we can reach out to one another, and pull one another up.

Arms flung wide. None of this angry, frightened, when-do-I-get-mine, what-if-you-don’t-hold-up-your-end, hedging, play-the-odds pettiness. None of this constant policing, and it makes me so tired, the constant policing of everybody else’s lives to make sure they’re not getting one cent more than we the righteous think they’re owed.

(I swear if we spent a fraction of the time we spend bitching about Our Tax Dollars paying for this, that or the other Welfare Cheat on actually ending poverty, we’d have solved that shit four times over and have money left over for National Free Ice Cream Sandwich & Kitten Petting Day.)

None of that. Just the assurance, the mindblowing assurance that we are not a series of islands that We Built, looking suspiciously over our fences at one another. In our vision of America, I may be responsible for picking you up someday. But you will be responsible for picking me up, for knocking on my door, for giving me food when I’m hungry and care when I’m sick and telling me the only thing human beings have ever told one another, from the time we could reach out to one another through the darkness.

We are none of us alone.

Here, take my hand.

You pull me up. I’ll pull you.


20 thoughts on “The DNC and the Story of Us

  1. Right on. I have several friends who see themselves as the “self made man” because their parents didn’t pay for their schooling. If I could get them to see one thing, it would be how we are interconnected – beyond even our national boundaries.

  2. “We are so scared, everybody who listened to last week’s RNC speeches about me and mine and what I built and what you owe me and how you’re lazy and I’m the only hard worker here.”
    That whole framing is a load of crap that we’ve put up with for too long. That’s not how reality is. We all have times when we can stand on our own two feet, and times when we are needy.
    I could write a long, LONG post on this from my own direct experience, but I’ll just put it like this: For pretty much all of my working life I’ve been one of the glorious producers in GOP mythology. But for 78 days I was in need like you couldn’t believe, in the kind of harrowing, stomach churning, please God don’t let the phone ring because it can only be catastrophic news need, let’s sear this fucking experience into your brain so indelibly you’ll be able to re-live it at any moment just by closing your eyes need, and while that was going on I was one of the dreaded takers.
    So fuck them, you know? We’ll all have those times. The kind of need will be different, and that’s why we need lots of different programs. And the big bad gummint can take what it needs from my paycheck to fund them, because I could work until I’m 200 and not pay back what I got during those 78 days when I was in the most desperate need I hope I ever experience.

  3. i currently having a little debate w/ an ebayer LIBERTARIAN from VA. not sure if he is considering anything i say, but his last response was not very…rite wing suppose. but he understands sanity can’t happe right now for the partisanship. to which i agreed. next missive i must denounce the teevee gnews. the opinion gnews.

  4. I often think of the humorous line that “The only people working hard (here at work) are you and me, and sometimes I’m not so sure about you!”. But it was always said to make fun of my or our view of things; it was never, ever true.
    It’s dismaying to realize how many will now respond with, “True, so true.”

  5. Being handicapped made me a socialist, in the broadest possible sense of the word. When you know your very existence as a living being on this earth depended on lots of other people (the doctors, the people who invented the technology that kept me alive, the nurses, the caregivers), and when you know there is no way you’d be doing what you’re doingright now without continued and sustained efforts from others (physiotherapists, surgeons, adoptive parents, teachers, mentors, etc), you can’t help but be.
    A few days ago, my mother’s neighbour’s house burnt down. The woman who lived there was home at the time, and heard a funny crackling noise, so she went outside to investigate, but didn’t see anything (according to her own recounting). Just as she was about to go back in the house, another neighbour saw her and yelled, “Don’t go back in there! Your house is on fire!” The next moment, the entire roof collapsed. If that neighbour hadn’t been there, she would almost certainly have died.

  6. Thank you for this beautiful post. Hard for me to pick a favorite excerpt, but below is my current one:
    (I swear if we spent a fraction of the time we spend bitching about Our Tax Dollars paying for this, that or the other Welfare Cheat on actually ending poverty, we’d have solved that shit four times over and have money left over for National Free Ice Cream Sandwich & Kitten Petting Day.)
    A M E N !

  7. Athenae,
    she said, walking forward with hat in hand and head bowed respectfully,
    would you allow me to post a link to this everywhere I can think of on the whole intertubes?

  8. I am one of those people who paid her own entire way through college(Ohio State – Go Bucs!).
    But the truth is I did it with all of your help as I had the GI Bill (I enlisted in the Army right out of high school), an Ohio National Guard scholarship, and an ROTC stipend. You all paid for me to go to school through your tax dollars, even those of you who have no love for the military. Because you paid your taxes and because Democrats and Republicans from that long lost era thought providing education through various means was important, I was able to get my BA and go on to good paying jobs and pay it forward for the next generation.
    So, thank you all and thank you, Athenae, for saying it so well.

  9. So, does that mean the Obama administration won’t cut one penny from Social Security or raise Medicare eligibility to 67?
    Love the prose, too, but I’m not much into the gauzy, lately.

  10. This is some of your best work. My favorite was your open letter to Kathleen Parker (when to her shock and horror, she discovered how vile her right wing readers could be when she strayed off the reservation). Trying to explain the concept of “we’re all in this together” to your average Republican is a little like explaining comedy. You either get it or you don’t. Unfortunately, you can say it many different ways (you said it beautifully) and they’ll never get it. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis have spoken eloquently about taxes being the price of civilization and the need for a prosperous and informed middle class if democracy is to survive. Instead, the Republicans’ intellectual standard bearer seems to be Ayn Rand.

  11. Wow. Would you like to be a presidential speechwriter? Or run yourself? I’d vote for you.

Comments are closed.