For many, the holidays bring mixed feelings. The formerly solid middle class for example, will continue to go to food banks offering free groceries. The local community resource centers will offer them free toys for the kids. The county or city health clinics will offer them free flu shots. All these things the shrinking middle class had previously paid for themselves, now they are increasingly reaching out for assistance with.
The lower class is fairing much worse as poverty knows no holidays. I see them with their reddened faces from drinking too much. Money needing to be spent on food and shelter goes to Budweiser instead. Beer's advantage over food is it not only fills the stomach, it numbs the mind and gives some sleep.
Short on dollars, the main currency many Americans have in this holiday season instead is hope for change. The well-known statistics about the economy speak for themselves. We are slowly improving. But for the drowning, a life preserver closer than before yet not in grasp still doesn't allow to stop treading. These difficult times can bring out the best in people. I still see a generosity of spirit among the middle and lower classes.
What else could have been expected to happen from such misguided economic policies? We have done the best we can under these circumstances. The resilience of middle America is the real story of our times -- more profound even than the computer is the tenacity of Americans to get knocked down hard and get back up. We are the heart and soul of this nation. The greedy are bemused by their own self-importance. Yes they make their contributions to society and have other fine values. They are more accurately though the lace while we are the fabric of this nation.
It's important that as we go through the holiday season we feel gratitude. But it's equally important we not swallow humiliation in accepting crumbs as meals. Feel grateful for many things but not for crumbs. We deserve more. We deserve better. We earned our fair share. Standing up for the working people of this country is each of our's responsibility. Reinventing the middle class is our top economic priority. From there, we need to build more ladders for the poor to climb into financial stability.
The irony of doing otherwise is we are a retail consumer-based economy. If we can't buy things, who are the wealthiest going to sell to? Is this to be a Wal-Mart nation? No unions, no thinking, no fairness? The value of a middle class is in the best interests of the wealthiest. We stabilize the flow of trillions in and trillions out. We small business owners account for half of the country's employment. Our Little League baseball and Pop Warner football teams make zip codes into communities much like houses are made into homes.
The values we cherish can't be bought. No amount of money will ever purchase the serenity of being a good person. A good person being defined as one who cares about other people and does unto others as they would have them do unto themselves. At this point in our history, the wealthy have insulated themselves as they gain more control over our lives. We are, in part, the enemy of their ideology for society to give more to them, and less to us. As often is the case, the blind do not see goodness in others nor in themselves.
We expect to carry ourselves with grace and dignity in trying times as well as to be good sports when we are ahead. We have conditioned ourselves to do so as a matter of practicality to keep level-headed. Whereas the wealthiest do not have that requirement. They can grow soft in their minds or they can choose to take the high road, to carry themselves humbly grateful for their blessings of good genes and good luck. But apparently most fail at living up to that high standard, likely confusing high strength of character with high society.
We all want prosperity so wealth is not the cause of this argument. The contentiousness is that we hold the rich accountable for themselves while they do not necessarily do so, except perhaps in rhetoric.They may live in their heads thinking they are above accountability. They can try to pummel others into submissive accountability for them. That is the main difference between the wealthy and the middle and lower income earners. Ultimately we each are responsible for ourselves. The wealthiest can buy a lifetime of obfuscation and insulation from this reality whereas we can not.
During the holidays some of us have a little rest from these economic battles. For those who don't, keep hanging in there. One gift for you is to know you are not alone.