Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Far too many states in which I’ve lived are very “red”, which means I have many friends who are conservative Republicans, friends who might not like this post if it goes in the direction that I expect this post to go. One of these friends posted an “open letter” presumably from some young woman talking about the economic crisis. I’m assuming it was a young woman but reposts like this could actually be the work of some social media fake who is actually a disgusting old man in Russia typing on his computer claiming he’s a twenty-something sexy woman.
The gist of the letter is that she doesn’t see any economic struggles. The letter says that she’s sitting in her favorite fast food restaurant, looking around at all of the people with their iPhones, eating whatever they want with no food or money shortages, so it must all be “fake news”, and that’s the spin. See, Russian agents want the president to win a second term, and it has been proven that today, as in 2016, they are busy flooding social media with fake stories using false identities with a goal not so much of convincing that their stories are true as it is to simply sow doubt in the real news.
Assuming the story is not a fake, this is what entitlement looks like. There are no shortages, there is an abundance of resources and money because everybody in the fast food restaurant have iPhones and food. If that was where the world ended, then, no doubt, this individual would be right, but it’s not.
If you’re sporting an iPhone, yeah, you can probably afford to eat at fast food places. Unfortunately, our society is one of consumerism. It’s really not significantly different from in the Renaissance period when men would wear their wealth, both to keep in near them, but also as a symbol of just how successful they are. It was a form of bragging, just like the iPhone is today.
I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have a cell phone (Motorola if you must know), and it, too, has all of the bells and whistles. There was a time that if you had a Motorola Razor (the predecessor to the model I have) it was the hot phone. Today, it’s just one of many models that all do basically the same thing. I struggle to pay the cell phone bill so people can contact me for my work, but even this summer, I’ve had to save money by eating twice (one meal) every three days. But to me, this is still entitlement.
I have seen people in need. I’ve lived where homeless are on every street corner. I’ve seen desperate people set up shelter behind stores to sleep. If your entire world consists of the eating area of a fast food restaurant, you’re not likely to see this. Sadly, many people don’t want to see it.
It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to those who are struggling. It makes life so much easier when you don’t see anything ugly, I understand that, but people should be aware that their experience is not the same as that of others. Another friend of mine works at a hospital and is livid about the ACA saying that people don’t need universal health insurance, because she sees them in the waiting rooms with iPhones (again with the iPhones) and expensive shoes. Again, this is a confusion of consumerism and need. Besides that, there’s a difference between an $800 phone and medical expenses. Just the test alone for Covid-19 is said to cost up to $2,300. Just for the test. I still think it’s interesting that people oppose the ACA that requires all citizens to pay at least something, while without it people needing treatment will simply skip out on payment or declare bankruptcy.
We must not believe what our eyes tell us, or judge based on our own experiences. I have seen more than many people, suffering and evil that turns my stomach, but all that I have learned from my experiences is that I have not seen everything. It’s nothing but hubris to assume that in our limited little world, and assume there is nothing left to see, and nothing left to learn. Our world is little more than our experiences, and that makes everybody’s world very small indeed. Nobody has witnessed all that there is to see, all of the suffering possible. News stories and statistics cannot express the human suffering behind need, and even in and of themselves they cannot cover all of the ills of the world.
All we can do is recognize that it is there. All we can do is to try to improve the lives for others. A few days ago, I wrote of donating blood. This didn’t help everybody; it was a very small contribution to a tiny problem in a vast universe of suffering, but to those people it did help, it changed their worlds. Make a stand, pitch in, and help out. And for the love of all that is holy, stop passing memes along from people who believe they know everything at twenty.