My mother always reminded me to be thankful. “When you get to the top, wherever or whatever that top is for you, be sure to send the elevator back down to get the others.” I know, Mom; I get it, but I appreciate your concern. She had big hopes for my future, and that much I could tell, even though she had no earthly idea what any of us would do when we got older. I chose photography as my hobby and future life. She didn’t want to discourage me, but she didn’t encourage me either. Mostly, I think she didn’t want me to be disappointed, or to get angry at the world. Disappointment and anger were everywhere; she just didn’t want me to buy into it.
My mother told me once, “Mary Catherine, we can’t take things personally. If we did, we’d end up being angry at the entire world.” I understood what she meant, even though I was too young to remember the good years. You see, apparently sometime between 2008 and 2015, it became a faux pas to question our economic, political, or moral compasses. And that’s where my parents agreed. According to both of them, the United States had split down the middle, on all fronts. Good friends became enemies overnight, and the only friendships that seemed to survive were those that truly respected boundaries. Talk of politics, our economic demise, and plummeting morality were off the table. After the Crash, all this “silence is golden” became worthless. It seemed that keeping quiet helped maintain friends, but it didn’t maintain our way of life, and according to my parents, it was a lesson they learned much too late.
I’d laugh when my parents told me how little progress in technology was made after the Crash. I never paid much attention to their old ways, and I never had anything to compare my life with. But in all truth, as I realized when I entered high school, we didn’t just stop progressing…we went backwards. My mother often talked about their technology and all the expectations of things to come—clones, mutations, time travel, robotics, living on the moon, maybe Mars. But great expectations end quickly when a future is built on shifting sand…and feelings of not deserving success and excellence. With such a mindset embedded in Washington, it wasn’t a surprise that our technological superiority had already started tumbling down, well before our economy imploded. What happened on June 22, 2015 only rammed America’s own self-imposed spiral down our throats.
People thought we’d never see a human wasteland in our lifetimes, but we did. My parents always reminded me that the first two years in the Black Crash made the Great Depression look tame, even though neither had an inkling of what “losing everything” really meant. Jobs disappeared; homes were lost; life savings and investments gone. I remember seeing the pain, even though I was too young to understand the concept of going from having enough to having nothing. Even as a child, I could tell when things just weren’t right, when everyone around you wanted to cry, or just stop trying. It seemed hopeless—like everything was lost. But the toughest times–real poor peoples’ hardships–we didn’t have a clue about…except for what was taught to us.
I think my mother was one of those closet liberals. She wasn’t one of those progressive types who thought nothing in this world would ever be right until the rich were poor and everyone else was stuck there with them. Regardless, not many closet liberals exist now, but I understand the concept: Poverty is here because we created it, along with all our so-called goods and services we shove down others’ throats. We can’t separate poverty from our bad past. We raped the less fortunate to make a dollar; we’re still raping. Blah, blah, blah. How can anyone with a brain buy into this nonsense? Complete rubbish, and it’s all documented in our textbooks as behavioral challenges that no longer exist. But sometimes, I can still see some of it in my mother’s face.
She told me how it seemed the entire world was split down the middle, 50 percent believing in personal responsibility and free enterprise, and the other half believing in income equality and handouts. She told me how she lost a quarter of her other friends after the 2008 election and lost the remaining quarter after 2012. After that, her world was pretty much conservative inside out, and after the Black Crash…needless to say, things got much, much worse. I guess she blamed my daddy; he was one of those who drew that final line in the sand, a line she wanted to cross every chance she got.
In front of my daddy, my mother hid her liberal side very well, mainly because she had to. My daddy and his political cronies were the ones who decimated Washington, D.C. and put the last of the bleeding heart liberals inside the national reform zones. I knew he wouldn’t put my own mother in a zone. I hoped he wouldn’t do that…but, living under his roof, such a verbal altercation was far too risky.
Now, don’t get me wrong. She’d put up a fight, sometimes, and most times what she said made sense. But my mother had a soft voice and her empathy bled too freely. I’d always hear the louder side, my daddy telling her his view of progressive politicians. “Those people hold onto the poor just to hold them back. They have one rule: ‘A victim is always a victim.’ Do you really think they want the poor to rise out of poverty, to walk off the plantations and out of the ghettoes, and to start taking care of themselves?” He always asked her, and then he’d answer his own question. “Hell no, Anna. Progressives don’t give a rat’s ass for poor people. If there were no poor people, progressives wouldn’t have anyone to control. Remember, Anna. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ There is no Nirvana. It’s just life, and if we don’t make wise decisions, we lose. Utopia doesn’t exist in the real world.”
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