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This is My Country (question mark)

this is my countryWhen did we become a nation that abandoned the audacity of hope and instead, embraced the arrogance of entitlement? Maybe it’s been here all along and I’ve been too blind to see it.

You see, I began college on a pre-law track. All I ever wanted to be was a lawyer. Ribbon after trophy in extemporaneous speaking and debate, Mock Congressional Hearing competitions and history fair projects that left me sleepless for three days straight, all in pursuit of perfection. Justice. The American Way.

And then…I discovered that Theatre majors were doing the same thing – putting on performances fueled by facts (scripts)…and having a whole lot more fun doing it than my cohorts in social sciences. So I walked into the Theatre department and never left. In the process, I became politically apathetic, as there has not been a single federal law passed during my lifetime that has had a significant effect on the way I live except Roe vs. Wade.

I’m not ashamed that I voted for Barack Obama in the past election. Nor am I ashamed to admit I’m more liberal on the social side and more conservative on fiscal matters. What I’m ashamed of is that we’re a nation more ready to place blame than accept responsibility.

I’m torn on so many issues that have come across the wires this week. I’ll share my thoughts on all three, as each of you has your own thoughts. What shames me is that THIS is my country.

Burn, baby, burn: I’m no fan of Glenn Beck and I’m confident that if he even found me consequential, he’d be no fan of mine. Which is cool. We’re not one another’s target demographic. But he and his producer opened their mouths this week and I couldn’t help but be mortified. Erin Kotecki-Vest (@QueenOfSpain) turned me on to this story and I turned it over to my community on Facebook. The jist? A rural fire department serving Obion, Tennessee let a family’s home burn to the ground with their three dogs and cat inside because they hadn’t paid a $75 fee for subscription to the fire department’s services. On one hand, I GET the “no free rides” contingency – why should we help you if you haven’t paid? But I also sit here as a pet owner and human being and ask: how do you simply watch a home burn to the ground and burn to death a family’s pets that are trapped inside? The Coast Guard will rescue you from sea if your boat capsizes – and they’ll send you a bill. The paramedics don’t dig through your pockets at the scene of a car accident to find your insurance card before deciding if they’ll offer you medical assistance – they send you a bill. While the firefighters are stuck in a rock/hard place, it’s disheartening to know that $75 has been the price assigned to compassion. We can’t legislate compassion, but can’t we practice it anyway? The conversation on my Facebook page got interesting. (You’ll have to “like” the page to view, I think.)

Fed up with the federal bailout: Here’s where I know I’ll be unpopular (don’t care, thanks for asking). It is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that you are employed. Owning a home is not an inalienable right. In a conversation on Twitter this morning, a colleague shared a no-BS thought: “That’s what credit is about: not yours yet.” That was in response to this link that I posted from CNN Money, announcing that homeowners (in certain states and meeting certain criteria, blah-blah-blah) can soon apply for loans up to $50,000 to pay for mortgage payments and expenses in arrears. And the hoot of it all? If you stay in the home for five years, the loan’s forgiven! Well, slap me and call me Myrna. How ’bout I buy a house, don’t save any money, lose my job, have no money to pay for my house and the government gives me $50,000 for my troubles? That’s bullshit, folks. If you buy things on credit, they’re NOT YOURS YET. You don’t get to buy a car and not pay for it (hello, repossession).

Now, before you call me a hypocrite, here’s the rub: I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008. I had perfect credit. Two homes that I remodeled with my own hands – no contractors (though it was never supposed to be that way). And I bled every ounce of my savings dry to keep up with 2 house payments after an ex-fiance “decided” he wasn’t going to buy one of the houses as he’d promised. It was the toughest decision I ever made and I’m going to live with it – and pay for it – until 2015. So yeah, I know what I’m talking about. I was the best decision for me: to walk away from two homes that were $250,000 upside down in a matter of six months time. To get my life back. And I’ll tell you – I don’t live on credit anymore – screw that if it’s the American Way. I pay cash. Maybe more people need to learn this lesson. And the learning process sucks. Why does my country’s government want to reward people for bad decisions? I’d like my $50,000 check if they’re handing them out. Especially since this next year, I’m going to buy a home once again. I’m looking forward to it – me and my long-saved downpayment and cash in the bank are quite excited.

Apparently it’s okay for “religions” to preach hate: The 2nd highest official in the Mormon Church has issued a condemnation of the gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual community. All this in the wake of multiple gay teen suicides. I blogged about the topic over on ToyWithMe this past Monday. I’m appalled at the audacity that this church displays. My family’s best friends since 1979 have been a loving Mormon family – they are our neighbors and share in each and every one of our family’s joys and struggles. They’re kind. While it’s no secret that I’ve never been able to come to terms with organized religion, I find this statement malicious, especially in light of the recent challenges facing the gay community. I think Ellen DeGeneres got it right when she said that teens have enough of a problem figuring out who they are without bullying and hate coming their way. And this is the worst kind of bullying: by a 500 pound gorilla using religion as justification for word of hate

Man, these colors sure don’t run…but what are WE running from? I’ve been on the ass end of bad financial decisions and I’d like to think that I’m not the only one with a conscience about it. I’m penalized by the IRS each year on my taxes because I own my own business. I pay for my own health insurance. I pay contractors – and on time. I take care of my business. I take care of myself. I take care of my money. And this is the type of news I tune into when I choose to tune in?

I don’t have an answer. For any of it. But I’ll stand by my beliefs that people who spew misogynistic garbage are dbags, that those who have enough time to crusade against those who are not like them need to get a new hobby, and that sometimes, charity costs less than you think.

We’re responsible for ourselves and our families. Those who are different don’t pose threats, but we don’t have to tolerate their words of hate, either. We’re a nation of people who each need one another…and if you think you don’t need anyone else, you might want to think again. That gay person you hate just might have decided to be a paramedic or a doctor for a living. Might be important if you find yourself fighting for your life.