Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something. – John Lewis
Writing is a funny thing.
I’ve been trying to gather together some elusive ideas in my head for several days now, which started while I was working on my women’s history post for June at another website. I was about put it on the back burner, where maybe it would start cooking, and come up with something else for this post. Then a colleague posted a story about small-town America called Made in Iowa — thanks Joy! — and a word came to me: gumption.
It’s a word you don’t see much anymore, and I think that’s a shame. Because for me, it’s the true American spirit — not the lone-wolf, every-man-is-an-island Myth of American Self-Reliance, but the real thing. The interconnected strength of WE-can-do-it, which is the true story of this country.
Yes, it embodies standing up for yourself, but without the baggage of I-can-only-win-if-somebody-else-loses. It’s the REAL Art of the American Deal: Everybody Gets Something. Not ruthlessly using your fellow humans as stepping stones to the top of the money heap, but being part of the water that raises all boats.
Have you noticed how often we are told, when a law or a budget gets passed that hurts a lot of Americans, that “Life Isn’t Fair” — of course LIFE isn’t fair! Good people get cancer, bad people live long, healthy lives, and there are deadly hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, earthquakes and volcanoes erupting, over which we have no control. BUT, in a representative democracy, our LAWS SHOULD BE FAIR — that’s something human beings DO have control over. Saying “Life Isn’t Fair” when political decisions hurt people is a great big COP-OUT.
There’s been a lot of lip service paid to “telling it like it is” across the whole political spectrum, but way too much of it is blowing smoke. Telling people what they want to hear is NOT the same as “telling it like it is.”
This track started in my head with Pat Schroeder, former Representative from Colorado in the U.S. House. I’m a great admirer — she went way beyond doing a great job representing the people of her state, she sought fairness for ALL Americans. And she often did it with a crackling wit that made me chuckle with appreciation.
I think the title of her memoir shows what I mean:
Some more Schroederisms:
When people ask me why I am running as a woman, I always answer, ‘What choice do I have?’
Nobody ever says to men, how can you be
a Congressman and a father.
You measure a government by how few people need help.
You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.
When men talk about defense, they always claim to be protecting women and children, but they never ask the women and children what they think.
The Pledge of Allegiance says ‘liberty and justice for all.’
Which part of ‘all’ don’t you understand?
Spine transplants are what we really need to take Reagan on.
Susan Ferraro, in her NY Times column, described her:
“Since her election to Congress in 1972, Schroeder has almost single-handedly wrenched family issues – child care and education, pension reform for widows and former spouses, flextime in the work place for parents and women’s economic equity – out of the dim peripheries of campaign rhetoric and into the political mainstream . . .
At a podium or on the House floor, her searing wit can vaporize an opponent in the 15 seconds suitable for a sound bite: it was she who labeled Reagan ”the Teflon President,” she who called defense contractors ”the welfare queens of the 80’s.” Behind the scenes she does a surprising amount of homework and displays a shrewd, even lethal political savvy. Over the years she has helped bump not one, but two, chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee.”
But sadly, all that most people remember about Pat Schroeder is this: She cried.
In 1987, former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder memorably broke down upon announcing that she would not seek the Democratic nomination for president. The media frenzy that followed illustrated the tricky terrain for female candidates who show emotion. “Women across the country reacted with embarrassment, sympathy and disgust,” wrote The Chicago Tribune, a week after the incident. More than two decades later, Schroeder told USA Today she’s still catching flak about it. “I want to say, ‘Wait a minute, we are talking about 20 years ago.’ It’s like I ruined their lives, 20 years ago, with three seconds of catching my breath.”
Yup, LIFE isn’t fair —
But here’s the real question:
Do we as a people have the gumption to make what we DO have control over FAIR?
Here we are, almost halfway through 2017, and it’s Monday. Make it a good one!