“You should run for office”
My husband uttered those words one Sunday morning, after I finally, after five years of political squabbling, convinced him to listen to my ideology. I mean, I actually got him to listen not just humor me and pretend to listen. We were sitting on the front porch, having our morning coffee and he was going on about me being a Liberal…and I was denying it…again…and I said, “I know what’s wrong with the country. I call it “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?”
“I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” is what’s wrong with the entire country, from pre-school on up to senior citizens. “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” is the mantra of power and the poor. “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” is why the country just doesn’t work anymore.
Let me jump back for a second. There is a basic tenet that I believe is necessary to society: you take care of your people. This does not mean a lifelong handout. People are going to achieve different levels of financial success in society and that just makes sense. We need ditch diggers and waitresses as much as doctors and lawyers. There’s nothing wrong with being working class. But when the working class is hungry, when they can’t afford doctors or healthcare…well there’s something wrong. Right now, the working class is suffering and much of the upper class is looking down on them saying, “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?”
Back in the day of The Greatest Generation, our grandparents, hard work was a way of life. There were bankers and lawyers and wealthy businessmen. But being a working class immigrant wasn’t a crime. It was a time when doctors made house calls and didn’t always charge. When you could run a tab at your local market until payday…or longer. You could wake your neighborhood pharmacist up in the middle of the night when your kid had a bad cough. Everything was made in the USA, because most of it was made at home. And neighbors helped one another out, because they were neighbors.
Then the baby-boomers came and we got “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” Money and possessions became the measure of a man. Everything became disposable, including people. Big business became less and less about people and more and more about profits.
“Hey, I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?”
The children of the 70’s and 80’s were taught to want the best and to strive to have it all. Excess was king. Small grocery stores and pharmacies were replaced by mega-chains. Neighborhood banks with tellers who knew you by name merged and merged again into gigantic financial conglomerates. What’s that c-word again? Charity? Do for your neighbor? Pffffttt…Hey, man…”I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?”
The children of the 90’s know nothing except get as much as you can as fast as you can. Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade my iPod, my Internet, super-size me! Step over the homeless man in the door at McDonalds while texting on your brand new iPhone. Just don’t look him in the eye.
So, while I don’t want publicly funded programs “shoved down our throats”, I recognize that we’ve totally screwed ourselves with “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” I’ve come to the conclusion that when we start giving again…start caring about people over dividends…start recognizing how fucked we truly are, then maybe we can back off the healthcare mandate, etc. Maybe if we stop the damn bickering, finger pointing and name calling and just compromise for the greater good of the country, we might get back on the right track. Maybe if we recognize that we’re all different, but equal because we’re all human we might start to have compassion and stop clinging to what we have so tightly, hard-earned or not…because it’s entirely possible that someone else needs it more.
Maybe we just need to kill “I’ve got mine. Where’s yours?” once and for all and replace it with “What can I do to help?” Voluntarily and without a mandate telling us it is the right thing to do.
Do you think?