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Last week I posted a diary that was neither eloquent nor overtly political. I did not blame any particular person or group or party for my current situation. I merely spoke honestly (if inelegantly) about my life. Those who responded to the diary here at the Kos and on my personal blog, did so with empathy and compassion. Often, they commiserated. Many offered help, suggestions and useful information.  

By the next day,  a couple of Conservative websites had picked up the piece and lambasted  it. Many of the comments were unnecessarily vile and vicious. Because I had posted my diary here, they made sweeping judgments about me and my life. They could not contain their loathing. In a single stroke, I was personally, politically and morally reprehensible. Most of all, they seemed offended that I had dared to open my mouth in public.

My politics are informed by my experience and in my experience  a Liberal's first instinct is to reach out, to help or seek to understand that which is different. In contrast, a conservative's first instinct when confronted with something different or unsettling is to stifle and suppress it. In effect, to set it apart as The Other.

In the case of my previous diary, the commenters were responding to some imagined Other, whom they needed to despise and belittle to quell their own fear. As long as my words were merely the ranting of some worthless imbecile, they were safe from ever finding themselves in the same situation. Because clearly, such things do not to happen to GOOD people. (Except when they do, and then books must be written and sermons must be preached and it must be decided at long last that the trials which have befallen this good person are like those of Job, a part of God's inexplicable but unquestionable plan.)

Othering divides us. Even here, I have done it, sweeping all Liberals and all Conservatives into my little construction. But all to often now it seems that “There but for the grace of God...” suddenly has the subtext of “There but for all my hard work, wise choices and inherent goodness...go I.”

I can understand how someone who has always been blessed with rewards for their hard work, might believe that they have earned what they have, while someone who has worked equally hard (if not harder) and reaped none of the rewards is more likely to understand that the work and the reward do NOT necessarily go hand in hand.  In other words, the people who see themselves as Good, and to whom only good things have happened, tend to believe that it is cause and effect, that they have earned those good things by the sheer goodness within them. This is why such people feel blindsided when something bad happens, because it seems suddenly unfair, as if the rules have been broken. To truly be compassionate, one has to first accept that there are no rules and some understanding of this truth is crucial in the fostering the empathy and support that I received last week.

As a result of that feedback, I feel recharged and re-energized. I am ready to fight for the rights of people like my daughter. I am willing to fight until every one of us has access to appropriate healthcare. And I am able to speak up, scream at the top of my lungs if I must, to add my voice to the chorus, exposing the undeniable consequences of long-term unemployment.

Thank you for reminding me of such things.

Originally posted to laurustina on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 08:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Unemployment Chronicles and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Keep up the fight. (7+ / 0-)

    We all have a long road ahead.

    Tipped and Rec'd

    This is a crisis I knew had to come, Destroying the balance I'd kept. Doubting, unsettling and turning around, Wondering what will come next.
    --Ian Curtis

    by jethrock on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 08:29:41 PM PDT

  •  Well written and powerful (7+ / 0-)

    as your last diary was.  I love this:

    “There but for all my hard work, wise choices and inherent goodness...go I.”

    Peace.
  •  I suspect it got picked up..... (14+ / 0-)

    ....because it was simple, personal and spoke to people.  It was a message that they couldn't just brush off, so they had to respond.

    You challenged the narrative with a diary that didn't go into needless detail about root causes from 80 years ago.  They couldn't count on other peoples' eyes glazing over.

  •  Hi (6+ / 0-)

    Would you please post a link to the Diary in question.

    The reaction you describe is important. It informs us of where and when we make a difference. The more visceral the response, the greater the difference we made.

    It would be helpful for the original Diary to be linked in this one.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:07:11 PM PDT

    •  The original diary (6+ / 0-)

      is HERE. I have edited this post to include a link to it in the text as well and apologize for not linking to it initially.

      "All politics is personal"

      by laurustina on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:48:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, jolux, falina, Garrett, Matt Z

        Oh ... no apology necessary. I found your other Diary easily enough, but I also wanted to put this one in the Community Spotlight, and it seemed somehow incomplete without a link.

        I picked your Diary mostly because people often wonder what good we do, what effect we have, when Diaries are written, discussed and published on the site ... I mean, it's just talk, isn't it?

        The we find that the "other side" has reacted viscerally to a piece of writing and we know that, at least for them, we matter, and we do make a difference in some small way.

        I think this is a subject that deserves more "eyes" on it :)

        Good Job!

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 11:05:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I just googled my UID and whaddya know? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jolux, falina, Black Max, Russ Jarmusch, Matt Z

    I too got picked up by right wing sites.

    Once for a comment about the Weiner thing, and once for a diary on Alito and his dissent in the Westboro case.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 09:29:12 PM PDT

  •  People who feel superior because of their (6+ / 0-)

    wealth or because of their religious beliefs do not represent the teachings of Jesus.  The Bible lays that out very plainly, yet, there is no shortage of people who call themselves Christians who are willing to condemn others.  

    Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. -- Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:23-25
    1     Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2     For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mth. 7:1-2

    Likewise, non-religious conservatives who feel superior because of a bloated self-image are usually the type of people who suffer from personality disorders.  

    You are eloquent, and I would guess very intelligent, so take pride in the fact that you have compassion and forget about the people who feel a need to belittle you.  They are the smallest of people in our society.

    Good luck.

    •  as an evangelically-raised agnostic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md, jolux

      I continue to be engaged in the intersection between faith and politics, specifically the tension between the Fundamentalist Christianity of my childhood and the growing but less vocal force of Progressive Christians.

      "All politics is personal"

      by laurustina on Mon Jul 18, 2011 at 11:31:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i missed the first diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md, jolux

    it was eloquent, granny

    so direct, simple, true

    devastating

  •  I thought your diary from last week (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md, jolux

    was very eloquent, as is this one.

    I have no words to describe the diary about your daughter which  I had not read before. I sit here with tears in my eyes and a longing to put my arms around you and grieve with you.  Before I perhaps had an intellectual understanding of some of the issues facing transgendered people and their families. Now I have an understanding from my gut and my heart and I thank you for that.

    I know that I still have only a seed of understanding but as more ways of telling Alice's (or other Alices') story are found, that seed will grow and I will be the richer for it.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 03:59:37 AM PDT

    •  and thank you (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rserven, jolux, falina, sewaneepat, Oh Mary Oh
      Before I perhaps had an intellectual understanding of some of the issues facing transgendered people and their families. Now I have an understanding from my gut and my heart and I thank you for that.

      Writing about her is not easy, but a response such as yours makes the necessity of doing so, all the more clear to me.

      "All politics is personal"

      by laurustina on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The diary you posted last week (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jolux, falina, Black Max, Oh Mary Oh

    was extremely powerful. I think it reached people because people could relate to the problems you had.

    And also, it reached people because they wanted to help make things better. In a way, you give us hope because you show that it is possible to make a difference in small ways.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 07:53:08 AM PDT

  •  If success results from talent and hard work, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jolux, Oh Mary Oh

    then conservatives should have to explain W.  A C student at best who had everything handed to him and failed at every business he was given to run ended up president of the United States!

    Though I'm sure that was all part of God's plan.

    "What is essential is invisible to the eye." www.thefoxfoot.com

    by greywolfe359 on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:56:04 AM PDT

  •  Your prior diary (9+ / 0-)

    was terrific-and so is this one.

     Liberals need to be proud-we have much to be proud of.

    What the hell is wrong with the picture when people will spend millions on a war-but not one penny for free healthcare.

    And-yup-I'm dropping the "F" bomb--------"Free."

    We'll enrich war profiteers and major corporations-but not our own citizens-the very people who keep this country moving.

    All the money we've paid in taxes in this country- healthcare damned well ought to be Free.

    I'm tired of picking up the tab for rich people.

    With all the money there is in this country-they want to take from the sick-the old-the young-they want to cut our safety net?

    They pick on Social Security-they pick on Welfare recipients-they pick on our nation's veterans-they pick on the disabled?

    They disenfranchise large segments of the population-we have the largest number of people in prison in this country than anywhere else in the world-and as they very deliberately-through legislation-cut us off from all means of support-they have the balls to continue to flog us-by telling us we need to tighten the belt even more-while they fight about taxes for private jets!

    How dare they?

    Who the hell do these people even think they are?

    We shouldn't be asking for our fair share-we should be demanding it-because I think it is very clear we are not going to get it any other way.

    Indeed-people have lost homes-they have lost healthcare-they have lost jobs-they have lost their futures-they have lost their lives-and still-the Band Plays On.

    Unconscionable.

    "Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you." Bishop Peter Storey---Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, June 1981

    by lyvwyr101 on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:07:24 AM PDT

  •  The original diary was excellent (5+ / 0-)

    as is this one.

    It's hard for me to imagine the sort of person who would reach out to personally attack the writer of the first diary. I'm glad that you are able to respond to the attacks with a degree of understanding and empathy. No matter what resources may be lacking in your life right now, you have your humanity and common decency. Which is much more than I can say for your correspondents.

    You're absolutely right about the thinking underpinning these attitudes. It goes back to our Calvinist puritan ancestors. Success is proof of worthiness, while lack of success is evidence that a person is lacking in character. (convenient system!)

    We have nearly one in four American children living in poverty, with the job situation only getting worse. At what point do these zealots realize that real people are hurting here?

  •  Perhaps the most insidious theological statement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, TomFromNJ, Oh Mary Oh

    ever.

    "There but for the grace of God go I."

    My all-time favorite religious bumper-sticker says

    "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite."

    It can be taken at least two ways.  This is a relgious person being completely honest, or this is a person satirically blasting those who say things like "There but for the grace of God go I."

    There is no way to make this statement without implying that God has done me special favors that, for whatever reason, God has chosen not to do for that person.  Saying that God takes special care of me is just as bad as saying my life is better because I am smarter, or work harder, or make better choices.

    I believe in God, but I also believe "shit happens."  I don't know how the world works or why it works that way.  I was unemployed for five years, but now I am in my 12th year of a great job.  I am not a better person now than I was then.  I also had some people help me out a lot along the way.

    Thank you laurinista.  Sorry for the creeps that attacked you, but I am not surprised.  Your existence exposes their whole way of understanding the world as a lie, so they find you very threatening.  Thank you for not keeping silent.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:39:40 AM PDT

  •  Jesus is busy, save yourself. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, Oh Mary Oh

    Out in the west Texas town of El Paso...

    by falina on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:01:50 AM PDT

  •  I thought your original diary was honest and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, Oh Mary Oh

    heart wrenching. I'm glad you are not letting the conservatives who ridiculed you get you down. Many of them, if they were honest, probably have some of your problems.

    •  actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Max, Oh Mary Oh

      the ones who DID admit to the same kinds of struggles seemed the most offended that I had dared to say so. They rolled out their own laundry list of hardships, as if trying to one-up me and then finished off with, "But I would NEVER whine about it on the internet!"

      "All politics is personal"

      by laurustina on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:27:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very well put, laurustina! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, laurustina, Oh Mary Oh

    We would all be better off if each of us liberals took this attitude:

    As a result of that feedback, I feel recharged and re-energized. I am ready to fight for the rights of people like my daughter. I am willing to fight until every one of us has access to appropriate healthcare. And I am able to speak up, scream at the top of my lungs if I must, to add my voice to the chorus, exposing the undeniable consequences of long-term unemployment.

    Of course, another great summary of liberalism comes from Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) on The West Wing:

    Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. ... So when you try to hurl that word 'liberal' at my feet, as if it were something dirty, something to run away from, something that I should be ashamed of, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

    I Refudiate Palin's Squirmishes

    by ScottyUrb on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:49:44 AM PDT

    •  Awesome quote from TWW. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScottyUrb, Oh Mary Oh

      Here's a link to the larger quote, and the larger quote itself:

      Santos: It's true, Republicans have tried to turn 'liberal' into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.
      Vinick: A Republican president ended slavery.
      Santos: Yes, a liberal Republican. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican party? I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created social security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed every one of those programs. Every one. So when you try to hurl the word 'liberal' at my feet, as if it were dirty, something to run away from, something that I should be ashamed of, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and wear it as a badge of honor.

      This is no class warfare, this is class genocide. The middle and lower classes are being decimated. -- @sunshineejc

      by Black Max on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:30:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just keep writing (3+ / 0-)

    Everything you write is important, and you write it well and from the heart.  

    Take care.

    When shit happens, you get fertilized.

    by ramara on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 12:29:48 PM PDT

  •  Liberal is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Liberalism is the ( often challenging ) belief that there is more Good than Bad in Human Nature.

  •  People of poor character. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Desert Scientist, Oh Mary Oh

    There's something about political conservatism-- I'm assuming its comfort-the-comfortable defense of unearned privilege, but there are probably other factors as well-- that just screams 'selfish, rotten person' to me.  It took me years to put my finger on why the libertarian men and detached-conformist women I'd otherwise find okay, if not especially admirable, made me uncomfortable.  And really, it's because it's always someone else they have to revile, or of whom they have to express strong disapproval, or otherwise treat badly in order to feel secure.  That's a very obvious warning flag in basically all religions (although many have been warped to define self-righteousness as virtue, in a perpetual-nastiness feedback loop) and as far as I'm concerned it's an even bigger danger in civic life.  It's at least unforgivably lazy, if not completely pathological, to insist on blaming and deriding the powerless, and all types of conservatism do that on some level.  Again, people of poor character.

    I'd say there are no more than a half-dozen or so conservatives I know whose intelligence and integrity I respect, and none of them are under 65, mostly getting a pass on some cultural issues for that reason.  I just don't seek these people out or allow them more than superficial connections with me because I don't admire the application of their stated principles at all.

    "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. -Glenn Greenwald

    by latts on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 01:33:37 PM PDT

  •  For too long, identifying oneself (3+ / 0-)

    as a liberal or a socialist brought sneers of derision.  "Tree hugger, communist, etc.  I know immediately that anyone who identifies as a liberal cares about something:  the destitute, the homeless, the environment, the wars we shouldn't be waging, drought and famine in Africa.  Caring about something other than greed.  I can identify with liberals.  And it is not something to hide, especially in these times.  Too many feel uncared for and about.  

    Every day is a good day. Some are just better than others!

    by BabeInTotalControlofHerself on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 02:53:41 PM PDT

  •  "Othering divides us" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    laurustina, Oh Mary Oh

    says it all. I have several clients who are die-hard GOPers/Tea Partiers. They are good people, people who reach out to others in need, people who devote their spare time building with Habitat or going to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, people who volunteer endless hours on behalf of children, animals, seniors. . . I can't always understand how they reconcile their political beliefs to their community beliefs, but that's not my job. My job is to stand next to them, steadying the ladder, or working alongside them to find that missing pet or child. . . we are a community. Flawed, human, but still. . . we find a way to work together. I live in an inclusive world - to turn away from someone whose political philosophy differs from mine would be a betrayal to all that I believe.

  •  I diaried a poem a few days ago about this same (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahdillingham, Oh Mary Oh

    thing. You wrote yours better.

    I get deeply frustrated when people who have had many breaks they can't even imagine think it's all because they followed the rules. Outraged even.

    And I can't imagine that anyone could respond to what you wrote in a hateful manner. Your writing was so transparent, so honest, so hurt. To respond to pain with hostility… I can't sign off on that.

    The Republican Party: Our economic claims are not intended to be a factual statement.

    by Renee on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 04:33:40 PM PDT

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