Friends Back Home

I think this post should probably start with a quote I love:

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson to William Hamilton, April 22, 1800

Now of course, I do love this quote, but I also know that it is from a different time. This is from a time before Fox News and the huge explosion of anti-government and pro-hate groups. It is much harder to avoid withdrawing from a friend over politics now, because every news outlet in the US teaches you that you should. They make the partisan rhetoric sound so bad that having a friend of the opposing political party is less likely than an Israeli and a Palestinian sitting down to tea.

This is really hard on me, but to explain why I have to sound like a jerk.

So first, let’s understand that it is a lie that if you work hard you will succeed. The truth is that you have to be smart, pretty, or lucky. There are lots of very hardworking laborers who will never get anywhere because all they can do is work hard.

I got out of the ghetto because I am smart, but I know a guy who was lucky. He moved a few miles away from the ghetto where we grew up because he has a job with a mining company and makes more than minimum wage. Boy, does he think he made it! And he thinks everyone else who can’t get jobs at mining companies are lazy sacks of shit and deserve to starve to death.

This is hard to watch, because he isn’t rich. He isn’t even middle class. He’s just not living in the ghetto anymore. His meager savings and few possessions do not get him anywhere meaningful. It just bumps him up one tax bracket, but he will never get any farther than that.

He doesn’t see that he works, and that makes him just another member of the poor class. Rich people don’t work for a living. They make money off of investments and inherited wealth and businesses, and they don’t even pay Capital Gains anymore because apparently that’s okay.

The worst part is that he struggles to pay for his healthcare and his children’s healthcare. Of course his kids go to public school, so they have no chance at making the connections necessary to jump up another social class. He’ll never be able to afford sending them to college, either.

And yet, he can’t see how he is voting against his own interests when he votes Republican. He just hates on me for not worshiping corporations and worshiping Donald Trump. Truly, Republicans have taken it to the level of worship. They consider their deities beyond reproach, and so refuse to listen to factual arguments (meant kindly and spoken patiently) trying to explain why corporations are actually making things worse rather than better.

It’s hard because I want to keep my old friend. As you would expect, most of the kids I knew growing up are dead. That’s how it works.Most folks in the ghetto don’t grow up. Two are in prison, but most are dead. And then there’s the one who went Republican. And he’s a jerk to me, because he thinks liberals are all “PC nit-wits.”

Not easy to hear.

All the folks I meet in the expat community are from well-off families and nice neighborhoods. Many went to private schools. It’s awkward to talk to them because I have to skate around not having parents and try to avoid talking about dead friends and such… and sometimes I just want to be able to talk to someone from the same ghetto as me.

And yet.

These days, the poor are all Republican, and they won’t mix with us “free thinkers.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been told: “If you have an open mind your brains fall right out.” 

So frustrating.


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