Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Failure to Compute, Again.

Sometimes reading my FB wall can make me feel so foreign. Even now, more than five years after I ended my longest stint in Japan, I am amazed at the number of time I completely fail to relate to my fellow countrypersons. Sure, there are the numerous football comments that flood my newsfeed every Sunday in the fall (and they don't mean soccer) and the Elf on the Shelf updates that baffle me to no end. But I'm not talking about those, I'm talking about ones like the FB status update an old classmate posted that said:

"Just heard an advertisement for mattresses. They said no interest till 2018. If you have to finance a mattress you probably should not buy one. Funny stuff!!"

Or the one that equated economically disadvantaged students on subsidized lunches with foreigners living in the country illegally. This comment led to a thread about how undocumented workers are taking over the US without giving anything back to their communities or society at large. I wanted to pose so many questions to the folks on that thread, but, to be honest, I didn't know where to start. For one, how can you tell whether someone is foreign or not? And how do you know whether they are in the country illegally? I wondered how the discussants could be so sure that the economic strain was coming from the perceived barbarians from beyond instead of from the regular old folks living next door. And, most of all, I wondered how they all seemed to know that people who relied on social services found themselves there because they were lazy or uneducated or foreign.

Then there was the letter someone anonymously wrote to the parent of an autistic child suggesting the child should be euthanized. In so many ways, it doesn't even dignify a response, except that... Except that there are really people out there who really think special needs kids and adults should be out of sight and second class.

Finally, there was the interesting article about attitudes toward post-partum care in the US versus other countries that drew responses like:

"I am all for women taking time off after birth. I just don't want to be made to pay for it. You decided to have a baby? Great! Now accept the consequences (particularly the FINANCIAL consequences ) of your decision. Stop trying to pass your expenses on to those of us who chose not to have children."

Or

"One thing is for sure, they don't make women the way they used to. I wonder how many had sissy labor and complaints about hospital conditions 100 years ago. Society getting soft, or what?"

Are we really that self-entitled, sexist, classist, and  racist or have we become immune to the loads of junk we see online or on TV everyday? Comments like the ones above, made by acquaintances and strangers alike, scare me. And, they break my heart.

See, I have lived with an immigrant. I have given birth and parented a kid with special needs. I have gone years at a time without livable income or affordable health insurance. In other words, "even the least of us" (Matt 25: 40) has been me at various points in my life, and those difficult times had nothing to do with my bad choices or lack of hard work. 

I KNOW I am being ridiculous when I say this, but, how about a little compassion?

4 comments:

homeacrossthewater said...

Hear hear!

Anonymous said...

You're not being ridiculous, MOE. I've had conversations with my sister on this very topic too many times to count. We always end up concluding that most people have a lot of trouble being empathetic with others unless they have had a life experience that has opened their eyes and their hearts.

We just moved to a smaller city in the midwest (back to my hometown, actually)from the east coast. I'm now noticing how the people here often claim to be caring and compassionate but when it comes down to really helping their fellow man, they are extremely judgmental and intolerant. It's so frustrating. I guess that's why we have such a high poverty rate here? *sigh*

Mimi

Denise said...

This post is brilliant, MOE. I shared it with my husband. We both loved it and related to it on so many levels.

FMBMC said...

Yeah, 100 years ago they didn't complain about hospital conditions because many of them DIED. And what the heck is "sissy labor", because the epidural was my friend (and for those who don't want one, also a perfectly valid choice) and my C-section was anything but sissy.

I, too, had no insurance for YEARS because my employer did not offer it (very small firm) and I could not afford COBRA insurance. I also had to often choose between paying bills and buying food. I would not go back to those times for anything, but they did make me far more compassionate because I'VE BEEN THERE!