Where we find ourselves, 2016

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by cheri block sabraw

My great-grandparents came to the United States from several places—Lithuania and Germany. They came in the late 19th century to New Orleans, Louisiana, and through Ellis Island, New York. They came, as I have been told, to make a better life for themselves and their children. They came without much, worked extremely hard, secured an education, and touted the United States as the greatest country on earth. They were entrepeneurs, haberdashers, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, and teachers. They were self-made people.

No one promised them success or “stuff.” They had to roll up their sleeves and make it happen. Hard work was an obligation, not a choice. In fact, hard work was a credit to the family.

Whether you were a Pole, a Russian, a German, or an Irishman was not of particular import. What was important was the embrace—of a new country that offered hard-working people a chance. Whether you were a Catholic, Protestant, or Jew really didn’t count on the success side of the ledger.

Today, many people around the world have lost their ways, content to suck off whatever the system will provide them without much work. Litigants, migrants, recipients—all working the system because they feel entitled to “stuff.”

Those of us who have worked slavishly to make whatever success we enjoy are somehow “bad guys.” We must have ripped someone off, or suppressed a race or gender in order to be where we are. We owe others. We have made it because we are not black, female, gay, or disabled.

The world-wide battle cry is “Support me!” Support my disability, my race, my gender, my helplessness, my ADHD, my autism, my allergies, my lawsuit. “Support me!”

Many world leaders now are scrambling to collect their little covey of quail who run haphazardly, frightened and brainwashed, who believe that the only way to get ahead is to be a victim. Road-kill.

There are still a few independent voices but they are dimming.

I find it pathetic and dispiriting.

Blamers, all of you.

Where is your dignity?

I know, someone took it. It’s never your fault.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, People, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Where we find ourselves, 2016

  1. shoreacres says:

    Powerful stuff, Cheri, precisely because it’s on-target. My personal tipping point was Lena Dunham’s testimony before Congress some years ago, as she whined that the government ought to pay for her birth control. For some reason, today’s “feminists” can’t seem to grasp the irony: even as they rage against the patriarchy, they beg the government to act as substitute daddies. The same dynamic is being played out in a variety of contexts.

    I’m more than a little interested in tomorrow’s vote in Britain.

  2. Cheri says:

    I suppose being in England and listening to the debate in person and on the television every night and then coming home and listening to the Bernie Sanders’ types and of course, what I see here in California, made me feel a deep down disappointment at the gut level about where we (and the world) are in terms of the importance of personal responsibility. A very wordy sentence, indeed. I greatly appreciate your comment. Coming from the likes of you…it means a great deal.

  3. Cyberquill says:

    As someone once predicted, the downfall of the republic will come as soon as people figure out how to vote in order to obtain free stuff from the government.

    That said, the deck does seem more and more stacked against the average hard-working person. These days, it seems far less certain than ever that a certain amount of heavy lifting will secure a certain standard of living. Paradoxical situations arise, as when cities suffer teacher shortages because teachers cannot afford to live in those cities on their teacher salaries.

    In the late 1990s, working hard and long hours at a cafe I was able to afford my own little studio apartment in Manhattan. In 2010, fuggedaboutit. The “hard work and long hours” thing just didn’t cut it anymore.

    As much as I, too, resent the gimme attitude, I wonder if there mightn’t actually be some legitimacy to the growing sentiment that, in this day and age, hard work alone will get you nowhere unless you know how to invest and play the stock market — and, of course, were lucky enough to have inherited enough starting capital to be able do so in a meaningful way.

    My views, of course, may be tainted by my own personal experience as a career flame-out on all cylinders who’s living back “home” mooching off mom because he couldn’t get his act together in the real world.

    As a therapist in NYC — whom I saw a few times because I was curious what psychotherapy might be like, having seen it in so many Woody Allen movies, and also because the guy had a fascinating radio show on psychology that I loved to listen to — once told me to my face in these very words, it was my parents who “fucked you up.” He instructed me to stop blaming myself for everything, so I’m actually supposed to be more open to the possibility that it isn’t all just my own fault. I therefore assume it’s not my fault that I don’t have a penny to my name, nor that I felt compelled to ignore his explicit admonition to never move back to Austria again.

    • Cheri says:

      I find your comment important and thoughtful. It is true, especially where we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, that it is much harder for young people to make a “living wage,” that will enable them to live here. Too expensive.

      The thesis of my essay was not about hard work=success; rather, I took aim at a growing number of people in the US who have no desire to work hard (no matter what such work yields) and who bilk us (through social and court systems) out of solvency. Did you read about the 860k Medicare fraud in NY?

      Regarding blaming parents: When I stopped to consider that my parents did the best job they could at the time, I began to take more responsibility for my own emotions/actions.

      • Cyberquill says:

        Haven’t read about the 860k Medicare fraud in NY, but fraud, of course, goes with the availability of government benefits as smoke goes with fire.

        Working hard may or may not bring success. The key to success, I believe, is working smart. It’s like street smarts. Some have them, some don’t. Difficult to determine whose fault it is if a person lacks good instincts when it comes to telling whether the hard work he or she is doing is of the kind that will eventually pay off or not.

        It’s also sometimes difficult to tell whether one is blaming oneself too much or not enough.

  4. Richard says:

    Brutus:
    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.

    [William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar]

    Who would sell their humanity for cradle-to-grave protection from life itself? There are plenty of takers – the state, employers, spouses – who seek the power it confers. Protection of the weak against the strong in times of unyielding trouble is, however, a noble cause.

  5. Christopher says:

    “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…….just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had” – Advice to Nick Carraway from his father.

  6. Richard says:

    Dear Peter and Christopher,

    Such small-scale, yet deeply satisfying success as I ultimately achieved depended at the outset neither upon the kind of opportunity or advantage I take it you mean, nor upon the availability of capital, which was non-existent, but upon the exceeding good fortune in my choice of fine, supportive parents and the incredible appearance at the most crucial time in my life of the woman who was to become my wife.

    This core of loyalty saw me through failure and barren, servile,and unforgiving years of unremitting labour until the faintest glimmer of hope began to appear and I found a destiny, with all the liberation of spirit and action which it brought. Followed, that tiny light led not to position or overwhelming financial reward but to self-sufficiency, survival and, paradoxically, security, for myself and my family in a world of continuing existential crisis, and, paradoxically, security.

    Always, I felt that the plan for survival, progress, freedom and, above all, love, was unfathomable and not in my hands, for it was unpredictable. All that was needed, in all my fallibility, was to try to do the right thing as I saw it, including the development of such talents as I had, and to work to my limits whenever called upon to do so.

    Richard

    • Cyberquill says:

      Richard, you speak of your “choice” of parents — how exactly did you choose your parents?

      • Richard says:

        It’s too long ago now and memory fails me. This much I know, though – there was food rationing, bombing raids, the thud of anti-aircraft guns within a mile away, dog fights overhead and doodlebugs flying about, so there is no chance they could have chosen me. As I see it, then, I must have chosen them, or do you have a better suggestion?

        • Cyberquill says:

          The British are renowned for choosing — and un-choosing — their affiliations, so you may be right. How are you coping, by way? I hear that many Brits are shocked and confused today because they thought that E.U. stood for “Etats Unis” and that they had voted to leave the United States. Word is that “What is the EU?” has been ranking among the top British Google searches for the past 24 hours.

          • Richard says:

            Indeed, Peter, what is the EU now………..that’s what I have been googling these past 24 hours.

          • Cyberquill says:

            Anyone heard from the Queen yet? Will she veto the Brexit? Could she if she were so inclined?

            • Richard says:

              She will do this when she is appointed hereditary Queen of Europe, which is being negotiated this very moment behind closed doors at Buckingham Palace. An affirmative decision is to be announced imminently to the united acclaim of the the British people.

              When he resigns as PM in October, she will appoint David Cameron President of Europe to fulfil a promise made to him in private at the start of his tour last year.

              An extra paragraph will be added to the Five Presidents’ Report. The delay has been the colour of the extra printer ink and who is to be the secret supplier of the pirated compatible.

            • Cyberquill says:

              I have a hunch there’ll be lots of delays in drafting the UK’s official petition to invoke Article 50. Once finished and dispatched, it’ll probably get lost in the Royal Mail somewhere.

          • Cheri says:

            The Google searches for “What is the EU” are coming from the US. Our history departments are horrible.

  7. Cheri says:

    Hooray for Brexit. I haven’t been so elated in a political occurrence since the Israelis won the 6-Day War, since Saddam Hussein was pulled out of his dirty hole in the ground, since Osama Bin Laden was made mincemeat by Navy Seals. I will feel equally elated when I never have to hear our current president speak on behalf of our country. That day will be in January, 2017. If Hillary is elected, I will stop watching television.

    • Richard says:

      It’s good news. Thank you, Cheri. Now it’s up to the Brits to make something of it – that’s the hard part. There are plenty of naysayers and doom merchants about, so it’s best just to ignore them and get on with the job. (Fortunately, I am retired 🙂 ) Let’s hope the trade unions don’t get in the way.

      • Christopher says:

        Who says Britain is going to actually leave the EU? Remember, this vote isn’t binding.

        There are powerful interests out there, very powerful interests – that include Washington, the EU, Big Business, etc – who, for geopolitical reasons to complicated to go into here, absolutely won’t have Britain leaving the EU.

        Already, David, Boris, Michael, and others, are saying just go slow, that there’s no hurry for Britain to officially apply to leave. In the meantime the aforesaid powerful interests have lots of time to make life very difficult for Britain in the outside world – so difficult, that Britons would become amenable to another much more favourable offer from the EU in the next year or so to “stay in”.

        Another referendum would follow………

        This wouldn’t be the first time this sort of thing has happened in matters European over the last 40 years.

        • Richard says:

          You are quite right to draw attention to these questions, Christopher, which have been the subject of some small debate, both before and after the referendum, largely by those who do not understand the will, patience and persistence of of the raw working people of this country. Subsequent interviews have demonstrated they understand the issues and are quite capable of expressing them in direct, striking language. Significantly, the media elite, based in London, of both left and right persuasions, tends to ignore them.

          Thus they speak of giving people like MPs a chance and getting rid of them if hey don’t like them, something they want back, asking where all the houses, schools, jobs and doctors are going to come from for so many extra people. In 2014/15 there were 500,000 more new arrivals.

          These swift thinkers are a tolerant lot and hoped Europe would adapt, even partially, to their ways. It didn’t. Quite the reverse. They were subjected to unrepentant insults about this country, which continue, and a failure to understand, or an ignorance of, its culture and contribution to the world’s affairs and betterment.

          What surprised me was the global interest in their decision. I had been given the impression that this country was now a non-entity that dwelt on a highly suspect past and that didn’t deserve its minimal representation in the councils of the high in the EU.

          Those who imagine that the British people will allow Parliament to disobey their instructions underestimate them and overestimate the powerful elite in this country.. It also happens to be unconstitutional. If Scotland and Northern Ireland feel differently, that is understandable and they might choose their own way. We shall see.

          Boris and the others you name want an ordered, rational withdrawal for the benefit of both Britain and Europe. Working people fully understand that and will give them a chance. Quite different from the vengeful fit of pique being thrown by Juncker and his ilk. We have had it up to here with them – not with Europeans as a whole.

          “We were the lion. I only provided the roar.” – Winston Churchill, after the conflict was over. And, of course, he was removed from power.

          I hope and pray that this a true resurgence of the generations-old British spirit, including its pioneering creativity. For the good of all, for it is in the hearts of all.

          • Christopher says:

            The “leave” decision is (arguably) the most important collective peace-time decision Britons have ever made – a decision that if implemented is well-nigh irreversible. All the more pity, then, that this decision will disproportionately affect the futures of the young, who voted by a healthy margin to “remain”, and whose futures will have been dictated to them by the old, who voted by a healthy margin to “leave”.

            Remember, though, in a few years those old will be dead, whereas those young won’t be. What then?

            If you voted to “remain”, you voted for the status quo, and therefore for the known. You therefore made an informed decision. If you voted to “leave” you voted for the very opposite – which is to say, the unknown. Because this unknown involves thousands upon thousands of factors that “leave” voters wouldn’t have known about, voting to “leave” was an uninformed decision.

            Add to all this the fact that this just-concluded referendum was so close, it is only fair that another referendum be held after the details of the proposed “divorce” are hammered out, and after at least some of the consequences of “leaving” have sunk in to the brains of the “leavers” – many of whom may already be afflicted with “buyer’s remorse”.

            Clement Attlee once said, “I could not consent to the introduction into our national life of a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum, which has only too often been the instrument of Nazism and fascism.”. Given that the late Hitler held no fewer than four referendums to consolidate his regime, the aversion to referendums in today’s Germany is understandable.

            Was David aware of what Ol’ Clem had said when he made the decision that has led to his political demise?

            • Richard says:

              These are old arguments. In 1973, the old voted to remain. After 40 years watching developments, they have reversed their decision as the name of the self-serving institution has changed from the Common Market to the European Economic Community to the European Union (here lies the clue). The old have no special interest either way. You insult their intelligence and their goodwill towards their children and grandchildren.

              You share with the Socialist elitist Clement Attlee a disdain (however well-intentioned) for the views of the people. David Cameron is well aware of that commonly held view of referenda held almost universally among the so-called educated, it having been drummed in to them at school. Things have moved on constitutionally for the better since then, thanks in part to Harold Wilson, in the spirit of movements for universal suffrage and abolition of the Rotten Boroughs, the creation of the trades union, the constitutional monarchy, the Petition of Right 1667, the experiment with republicanism, the Lollards, the Peasants’ Revolt, the earliest erosion of the feudal system in Europe, Magna Carta and beyond, before the Conquest, to the Witan and the establishment of the Burghs under Alfred. There is no status quo, except with the EU elite who want to press on with their barren, obsolete plans for everyone else, much to the disruption of peace and the fomentation of resentment.

              As for the generational divide, the samples taken, after a secret ballot, are probably as relevant as the pre-referendum opinion polls and underestimate the intelligence of the young. Having read the source material, I dare say you know this. I have discussed the issues in a neutral way with my children and grandchildren and know the realities.

  8. Brighid says:

    Spot on Cheri. People can’t seem to take responsibility for their own actions or lack there of. It is mind boggling that this has become the norm.
    Too many that are employed are employed by a government agency in one form or another. I can look around my small neighborhood and see that most here are government, they produce nothing but paperwork. The real producers, workers, craftsmen, doers are fewer and fewer in number. There is a financial and moral storm on the horizon, I hate to see it, but it seems the only way to right the ship.

  9. Cheri says:

    I hope there is a financial and moral storm on the way. I’ve been saying the same thing about the public school system here…that only when it self-destructs, will there be a chance to right the wrongs. That isn’t happening anytime soon!

  10. Thank you, Cheri! I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. GK Chesterton said, “How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.” In our society today there are few thinkers. The whiners drown them out with their moaning and complaining about every single imagined offense.

  11. Cheri says:

    Hi Queenie Francie,
    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post (which, I admit, is strident!) and guaranteed to push off some readers, for sure. I will check on you and your blog (about food and dining…love the masthead). I looks as though you are just getting started in the blogging world. Is that true?

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