I am about 8 years old. For the past 2 years I have had ongoing issues with migraines and asthma. My mom took me to our primary physician, who sent us to specialists for both. I had EEGs, EKGs, allergy tests and anything else one can imagine. For summer break, mom’s health insurance sent me and my brother to 6 week vacations for the past 3 years, because he also suffers from asthma. We are sent to the Northsea, the Alps, the Black Forest and each time we come back refreshed and finally, better. My mom is a single, cleaning woman, making about 1,000 Marks a month, sometimes a bit more when she gets a second job; barely enough to make ends meet. But, we don’t go hungry, even though we do eat a lot of liverwurst, we live in a nice place and we never stay sick for long. That was in Germany.
I moved to the US in 1992. I knew, ever since I was a child, that I needed to be someone and do something that would make the world a better place for others. Living at the bottom of the food chain had sucked, but taught me a lot about what is truly important in life, as well as being grateful and willing to share or help those who were worse off. I have kept that promise to the best of my ability; and even when I was unemployed, would always find a few extra dollars to support the Human Rights Campaign, Environment California, Stand Up for Kids, The Humane Society of America and Equality California. Growing up poor, bullied and abused, I knew how it was to be on the short end of the “acception” stick and being helpless about it. I never wanted to turn my nose up on those who were less fortunate than me. And while I haven’t become rich, yet, it hasn’t stopped me from doing what I consider to be the right thing, no matter how often I get attacked for it and how much that means swimming against the stream. I realized that doing something, no matter how little, would still contribute to the bigger picture.
In times where everyone screams about voting for a better future for their children and the rest of the country, while doing the exact opposite, I sometimes get discouraged. I am not sure how they are making a better place for anyone, while yelling hateful, mean, bullying and ignorant remarks.
In America, we proudly proclaim to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And yet, we have a sense of entitlement that makes us unwilling to see outside our own little box, thereby rendering us arrogant, cruel and very intolerant.
Many have grown to believe that those less fortunate must, by design, be freeloaders, losers and definitely abusers of the system. They have chosen, yet again, to make the exception the rule, thereby penalizing and judging everyone who doesn’t live up to their ideals and ideas of what is right and what is wrong, good or bad. And why not, there are plenty of politicians who will tell them that their perception is right. So, I am openly pondering and asking you how that vision of creating a home for the free and brave can be achieved, when some people are voting for anything, or anyone who restricts rights for those who think, believe or live differently.
How are you making the world a better place, while only being interested in your own best interests? How are you being compassionate and kind, while calling helping those less fortunate handouts? How can you proclaim yourself a true disciple of your religion, when all of them supposedly teach love, tolerance, compassion and living by example, while you are out preaching hate or practicing intolerance, selfishness and superiority? How do you talk about peace, while justifying war?
I am not gay. I am not rich. I don’t subscribe to any religion. I live a fairly good life in a wealthy community, and I can afford healthy foods, an environmentally friendly car, yoga, benefits and my medication; latter only as of the last few years.
I have, however, been unemployed, sick, poor and hopeless. I have paid $1,200 a month for a PPO insurance, who denied the charge from my pulmonary doctor, because my asthma is a “pre-existing” condition. I have paid thousands of dollars to ERs, doctor visits and tests, while being insured and paying a small fortune, just so I could get turned down or told that my treatment wasn’t covered.
I have watched gay friends being denied the right to marry, because religion makes them an abomination, by people who claim that they are not restricting their rights. After all, they can set up a will so their partner inherits their money when they die. “I am not restricting their rights by not allowing them to get married.”
I have watched people, who were well off, or living a nice life, having a higher sense of entitlement and demanding more benefits, breaks and higher wages than any of those so called slackers they are always complaining about; even when lacking the education, experience or skill to perform the jobs that would pay them those high wages.
I have watched and listened to many people who claim their religion to be above all others, while having no compassion, not living by example and actively preventing those who are different from pursuing their lifestyles and their happiness, calling it “freedom of speech” and their right while trampling all over other people’s rights, because when you do it in the name of “god” it makes it acceptable.
I could go on about abortions, stem cell research and the closing of Planned Parenthoods, as well as the blatant attacks of science, while forcing creationalism to be taught in schools. At the end, none of it matters to those who believe themselves to be righteous and merely defending their freedom.
Maybe I am off my rocker, but somehow I’d feel like a complete douche if my freedom and success/wealth would be built upon the misfortune and unhappiness of others. Yes, I am aware that this land was stolen from the Indians, that the Nazis killed millions, but my point is that I would hope that we have progressed as a human race. I hope every day that we will become more civilized and more advanced as time goes on.
Because I do believe in these values of being a decent human being, who really cares about others, their equality and their well-being, I find that I must lead by example and do the best I can, while hopefully inspiring others to do the same. I still believe that there is hope and that being kind, compassionate, tolerant and caring are virtues that are not only important, but must be strived for, if one considers oneself a civilized person.
I consider remembering where I came from and what I endured one of my greatest strengths when it comes to relating to others. I don’t always get it right. I make mistakes, I get angry, I lose my temper and yes, I judge people pretty harshly, once I consider them dishonest, selfish, mean and intolerant. Yes, I know that judging these folks makes me a hypocrite to some. It is, however, not the people I judge, but their willful choices and words, indifference, apathy and intentions that hurt, harm, violate or deprive others of their right to choose. At the end of the day our overall behaviors, choices, words and actions make us who we are and define us in society. So due to my trials, struggles and hardships, I consider it my duty to fight for those who can’t defend themselves and are oppressed by others in a country that promised said rights to everyone equally.
I choose to not live in the small world that small-minded people are trying to force upon me, but instead realize that this world is and will be as big as I allow it to be. I believe this world is and should be big enough for everyone, not just a few, privileged and selected individuals. I will keep doing my part, how about you?