When my sisters, brothers and I were little, Dad would every so often take a detour through the wealthiest of neighborhoods, on our way home from church. I can still see him looking back at the five us, in the rear-view mirror, grinning, as we oohed and aahed over elegant archways, majestic balconies, porticos, sun rooms, minarets.
We loved gazing upon those luxurious behemoths; we loved imagining what they looked like on the inside and what it would be like to live in them. We didn’t sit there grumbling and groaning, wondering why the people who OCCUPIED them “had it so much better” than we did.
We didn’t curl our lips and snivel, “They’re only rich because they steal from the poor. They’re greedy and dishonest and mean. They don’t need all that money. They should have to give some of it to us! It’s so unfair!”
On the contrary, we sat there marveling, thinking to ourselves, “They must have very important jobs. They probably went to school for a long time. Bet they’re really smart and really good at what they do.”
Gorgeous as those houses were, we were perfectly content living in our 1,900 sq. ft., three bedroom/two bath, bi-level abode.
Indeed, we were not only content, we assumed we were doing pretty doggone good, what with the extras Dad was able to provide us along the way–extras such as the “above the ground/below the ground” swimming pool he bought us in the spring of 1969.
You should have seen it!
It had a carpeted deck, a big, curvy slide, a diving board, and fancy redwood railing encompassing its 5-ft.-high perimeter. We had to climb several steps just to get to its gate and jump in the water! In my estimation, it was one of the best gifts Dad gave us–along with the snowmobiles he bought us for Christmas, the summer vacations we spent on Pratt lake, the trips to Mackinac Island, Disney World and Cedar Point, and the orange mini-bike my sister made me drive, smack into a tree.
Now, in case any of you are sneering (covetous as you are) and telling yourselves that we must have had a LOT of money because our dad, at times, could afford to be so “frivolous,” I assure you we had anything but – unless you consider the following scenarios sufficient evidence that we did:
- Standing red-faced in grocery-store lines with my (red-faced) mom, watching her figure out how many food stamps to hand this or that cashier. This in the wake of Dad losing the job he’d worked for two decades.
- Mom and Dad barely being able to buy enough blankets to keep us warm during some of our rather inclement, well-below-zero winters.
- Taking turns sopping up the sewage that spilled over the edges of our toilet bowls–and onto the floor–each time our sweet-smellin’ septic tank decided to, shall we say, “reverse course.”
- Having to move to California so that Dad could find work–so that Mom and I wouldn’t have to stand in shopping lines–food stamps and scarlet cheeks at the ready–all over again.
Now THAT’s livin’ large!
Side Note: it just occurred to me that the activity I referred to in scenario #3 might not seem particularly distasteful to you–comfortable as you’ve been living amidst one another’s free-falling excrement, free-flowing urine, stomach-turning halitosis, body odor, lice, scabies, communicable diseases, and rotting comestibles. But I assure you, it was far MORE than distasteful to us.
Which brings me to something I discovered about myself two Sundays ago when my husband, Jim, “pulled a Dad” and took a detour through a very wealthy neighborhood on our way home from church.
There I was, steeped in the same sense of wonder I’d been steeped in four decades ago, gazing at homes I was quite certain the two of us would never have the means to own, unless one of us won the lottery.
“You know something?” I turned to him. “It just dawned on me that I’m no more envious of ‘rich’ people today than I was when I was a kid sitting in the back of Dad’s ol’ Impala station wagon. I STILL don’t hate them for having more than we have. And I STILL don’t believe they got to where they are now by ‘sticking it’ to the poor.”
Well, didn’t I just hit the nail squarely on the head, thou righteous and noble “Occupiers”?
That’s precisely what your far-too-visible, absurdly-juvenile movement is all about, isn’t it? Blaming the affluent for your insignificant lot in life, condemning them for your willful inability to accomplish anything worthwhile.
What must it be like? Wallowing in your self-inflicted misery, day after day, nursing your hallucinatory wounds, bitterly begrudging almost everyone around you?
The truth is, the longer you “occupy,” i.e., thoroughly DESECRATE, selected cities around the globe the more you prove yourselves to be the lazy, irresponsible, narcissistic, Mao-Tse-Tung-worshiping whiners we conservatives have always thought you to be. Can you, in all seriousness, look us straight in the eye and continue to insist that others should pay for the exorbitant, over-the-top, highfalutin’ educations you deemed yourselves so worthy of?
To your own discredit, I’m sure you can.
You and you alone took out the loans that plunged you into debt. Therefore, you and you alone must work your way back to solvency, provided the Messiah doesn’t simply dab the crocodile-tears from your eyes and slap another “bankroll-for-bums” tax on those of us who already give half our yearly incomes to him and the rest of his balloon-headed reprobates in Washington.
So while y’all are enjoying your donated, 5-star cuisine, pitching your donated tents, furling/unfurling your donated sleeping bags, smoking your donated pot, shooting your donated smack . . . raping, capping, stabbing, beating the hell out of one another and sharing your STDs to boot, I’ll let you in on a little secret:
I obtained my BA and my MA without borrowing a single penny from anyone.
Here’s how I did it:
I settled for attending little-known, inexpensive community and state colleges, rather than prestigious, outrageously expensive ones.
I consistently attended my classes, consistently completed my homework, studied every day – often into the night – and applied for performance-based scholarships, a few of which I was awarded. Put another way, I had zip, zilch, nada time for partying, goofing off and/or loafing around. Bummer.
I worked various part-time, tremendously-humbling jobs to pay for my books, supplies, tuition, etc. I say “tremendously-humbling” because, among other things:
- I changed the soiled diapers of a mute, non-ambulatory, 21-year-old with cerebral palsy. (If you think wiping/cleaning an infant’s backside is sufficiently gag-inducing, try wiping/cleaning the backside of a fully-matured, 200-lb. man. I’m just sayin’.)
- I scoured the insides and outsides of some of the most disgusting toilets you could possibly envision
- I stayed with an Amazon-sized, 62-year-old woman stricken with Alzheimer’s who had the habit of smiling and kneading the hair rollers in her “toy box” one minute, then swinging wildly at my face the next
- I tended to an elderly man grieving the loss of his wife, endlessly wailing into the phone, leaving foul-smelling puddles of drool atop dining-room table, kitchen counter and floor
- I stood vigil beside end-stage-cancer patients, knowing they could die before my eyes at any moment
- I tutored a developmentally disabled teen-aged boy who regularly berated me, yelled at me, refused to do his work, and tried to shove me down a flight of stairs.
I lived with my mom and dad, but not without making my stay as beneficial to them as it was to me. They kindly put the roof over my head and I, in return took care of Mom; suffering, as she did, from diabetes, kidney disease and advanced heart disease.
I scrubbed the floors, on my hands and knees, meticulously cleaned the kitchen, dusted and vacuumed everything that COULD be dusted and vacuumed throughout the house, and overhauled the bathrooms (sinks, toilets, mirrors, showers, floors) once a week, every week. I drove her to doctors’ appointments and ran errands with her on an as-needed basis. I even mowed the lawns.
Thanks to the way my beloved parents taught me, I worked hard and didn’t expect anyone to foot the bill for my education. And look where I am today: OCCUPYING my warm ‘n’ cozy den, inside my warm ‘n’ cozy, two-story colonial, doing what I love to do most.
You, on the other hand, do NOT work hard. Would you be at “Occupy” if you did? You DO expect someone to foot the bill for you. And now, you’re shivering in the cold, sponging off the taxpayers (nothing new there), talking class-warfare gibberish, and breaking all kinds of laws.
Tell me, in all honesty, which of us is better off financially as well as emotionally and psychologically?
In the unlikely event the egotistical, altogether-delusional “scales” drop from your eyes, and you someday endeavor to become responsible, upstanding, productive members of society, you’ll have to start doing a few things differently. In particular, you’ll have to:
- Take hot, soapy showers, every day
- Wear clean, decent-looking clothes most days
- Respect others, even if you’d rather watch them die from hemorrhagic Ebola
- Obey the laws of the land–even those you’re not especially fond of
Believe it or not, we gluttonous, ice-blooded, diabolical capitalists know that change is always a tad scary, and seemingly impossible, at first. But we also know you’ll get the hang of it as long as you don’t let that nagging sense of entitlement throw you off course.
And remember: we’ll be standing with you, in steadfast spirit, every humility-advancing slog of the way.